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We have seen how the war in Greece, in its last stage, after the collapse of the Sicilian expedition, ceased to be a mere domestic between Greek and barbarian. We have now to see how the strife of Greek and barbarian was renewed at the same moment in the with west. It is indeed remarkable how these two episodes in the great conflict between Asia and Europe run parallel though separate courses in the fifth century. The victory of Himera, which beat back the Carthaginian invader from the shores of Sicily, was won in the same year which saw the repulsion of the Persian invader from the shores of Attica. After these triumphs of Hellas, bothPersia and Carthage had long lain quiescent, and left the Greek cities of east and west to live undisturbed at war or in peace among themselves. It was not till the mightiest city of eastern and the mightiest city of western Hellas came to blows and wore one another out in the conflict, that the barbarian foes, discerning the propitious hour, once more made their voices heard in the Grecian world. Sicily with an exhausted Syracuse, the Aegean with an exhausted Athens, invited Carthage and Persia alike to make an attempt to enlarge their borders at the expense of the Greek.


Sect 1. Carthaginian Destruction of Selinus and Himera

After she had achieved the repulse and utter confusion of Athens, it might have seemed likely that Syracuse would succeed in founding a Sicilian empire. Her first task would be to reduce Catane and Naxos; and, when this was done, the other cities, including luxurious Acragas, would hardly be able to resist. This prospect was disappointed by the intervention of a foreign enemy. But, though the victory of Syracuse over Athens did not lead to a Syracusan empire, as the victory of Athens over Persia had led to an Athenian empire, it was followed, as in the case of Athens, by a further advance in the development of democracy. Had Hermocrates remained at Syracuse, in possession of his old influence, a change in this direction would hardly have come to pass. But he was appointed to command the auxiliary fleet which Syracuse sent to Sparta’s help in the Aegean; and, when he had gone, the democratic mood of the citizens, excited by their recent efforts, vented itself in a decree pronouncing the deposition and banishment of Hermocrates. This was the work of his political opponent Diocles, who was a thoroughgoing democrat. Diocles bore the same name as a far earlier lawgiver—belonging to the same class and age as Charondas and Zaleucus—who had drawn up the laws on which the Syracusan constitution rested. The accidental identity of name led in subsequent ages to a confusion, and we find later writers ascribing to the democratic reformer, who rose into prominence now, the legislation of his ancient namesake. In his popular innovations Diocles borrowed ideas from the enemy whom his country had just overthrown. The Athenian use of lot in the appointment of magistrates was adopted. Hitherto the generals were also the presidents of the sovereign assembly, and had the unrestricted power of dismissing it at discretion. Diocles seems to have taken away this political function from the generals, and assigned the presidency of the assembly to the new magistrates, but with much smaller powers. The presidents, as we shall presently see, were able only to fine a speaker who was out of order; they could not silence him or break up the assembly.

Such was the position of the greatest Sicilian city—a full-blown democracy, but without her chief citizen to whom above all others she owed the deliverance from her danger—when the island was exposed for the second time to a Carthaginian invasion. The occasion of the war was the same which had brought about the Athenian invasion—the feud between Selinus and Segesta concerning some fields on their common frontier. In both cases, the dispute of these towns was a pretext, not the deeper cause. As Athens thought that the time had come for extending her commerce in the west, so Carthage deemed that the day had dawned for asserting anew her power in Sicily; and there were those who had not let fade the memory of the humiliation endured at Himera seventy years before and longed to take a late revenge.

Segesta, with no Athens to protect her now, ceded the disputed lands; but Selinus went on to exact further cessions, and the Elymian city appealed to Carthage. One of the two shophets or judges in that republic was Hannibal, the grandson of Hamilcar, who had been slain at Himera. The desire of vengeance, long deferred, dominated Hannibal, now almost an old man; and his influence persuaded the Senate to accept Segesta’s offer to become a Carthaginian dependency in return for Carthaginian help. A grand expedition was fitted out, and Hannibal was named commander. Sixty warships were got ready, 1500 transports, 100,000 foot, 4000 horse. The fleet was not intended to take a part in the offensive Second, warfare; it was stationed at Motya to be a protection for Phoenician Sicily and a security in case of discomfiture. The army landed at Lilybaeum and marched straight to Selinus. This city had never been besieged before within the memory of its folk; immunity had made it secure; the fortifications had been neglected. The Selinuntines were engaged in building a temple of vast proportions to Apollo, or perhaps Olympian Zeus, when they were brought face to face with the sudden danger from Carthage. The house of the god was never completed; of the “pillars of the giants” which were to support the massive roof some stand in their places on the eastern hill, but the great drums and the capitals of others must be looked for, some miles away, in the quarries from which they were hewn, left there when the Carthaginian destroyer came. There was no time to repair adequately the walls of the acropolis, on the central hill. Hannibal surrounded it and a breach was soon made; but the place was not in the foe’s hands for nine days, owing to the stubborn resistance which the inhabitants were able to offer in the narrow streets. The Siceliot sister cities were not prompt in aid; Syracuse promised to come to the rescue, and sent a force under Diodes, which arrived too late. Selinus was the first Siceliot city which was stormed and sacked by the barbarian; she was not to be the last. The people were slaughtered without mercy; only some women and children who took refuge in the temples were spared (not from any respect of the holy places) and carried into bondage. Those who escaped from the sack fled to Acragas. Thus Selinus fell, after a brief life of two centuries and a half.

Hannibal had now done the work which Carthage had given him to do; but he had still to do the work which he had imposed upon himself. His real motive, in undertaking the public duty of the Selinuntine war, was to carry out the private duty of ancestral vengeance. Against Selinus he had no personal grudge, and there he did not carry the work of destruction further than military considerations required. The buildings on the western hill, where he had pitched his camp, suffered much ; but the injuries sustained by the temples on the acropolis and on the eastern hill are due, not to Hannibal’s army, but to the earthquakes of later ages. It was to be different in the case of the city which he now turned to attack. At Selinus, Hannibal was merely the general of Carthage; at Himera, he was the grandson of Hamilcar.

Hannibal designed to capture Himera by his land forces alone; and in this absence of a Carthaginian fleet Hannibal’s siege of Himera differs from Hamilcar’s. The Greeks of Sicily were now bestirring themselves; the terrible fate of one of their chief cities had aroused them to a sense of their peril. The naval power which was supporting Sparta in the Aegean had been long ago recalled; and a force of 5000, including 3000 Syracusans, under Diodes, came to the relief of Himera. This city had time to prepare for the danger which she must have foreseen. But the besiegers, by means of mines, opened a breach in the wall; and, although they were repelled and the defenders made a successful sally, the prospects of Himera looked black, when the fleet of 25 ships, which had returned from the Aegean, appeared in front of the city. Hannibal saved the situation by a stratagem. He spread abroad a report that he intended to march on Syracuse and take it unprepared. Diocles, thoroughly deceived, decided to return home and carry off the citizens of Himera, leaving the empty town to its fate. He induced half the population to embark in the ships, which, as soon as they had set the passengers in safety at Messana, were to return for the rest. Diocles and his army departed in haste, not even waiting to ask Hannibal for the dead bodies of those who had fallen in fight outside the walls; and for this neglect he was greatly blamed. When Hannibal saw that half his prey had escaped him, he pressed the siege more vehemently, determined to force an entry before the ships returned. The fate of thousands, the vengeance of Hannibal, might turn on the event of a few minutes. On the third day, the vessels of safety hove in sight of the straining eyes of the Himeraeans. It seemed that Hannibal was to be baulked of his revenge. But the gods of Canaan prevailed in that hour of suspense. Before the ships of rescue could reach the harbour, the Spanish troops of Hannibal burst through the breach, and the town was in the hands of the avenger. On the spot where Hamilcar, according to the story, had offered up his life to the gods of his country, a solemn rite was held; 3000 men, who had survived the first indiscriminate slaughter, were sacrificed with torture to appease his shade. Himera, the offending city, was swept utterly out of the world and its place knew it no more.

Having thus accomplished his duty to his country and his gods, Hannibal returned triumphant to Africa. The position which Carthage won in Sicily by this year’s work, and her new policy of activity there, are reflected in the coinage of Segesta and Panormus. The transformation of Segesta into a Carthaginian dependency was displayed by the fact that she ceased to coin her own money. But Carthage also showed that she intended to keep a firmer hand on her Phoenician dependencies. These cities had hitherto paid homage to Hellenic influences by adopting a coinage of Hellenic character, with Hellenic inscriptions. This coinage now comes to an end at Panormus, and is replaced by a coinage, of Greek type indeed, but with a Phoenician legend—the word Ziz. The change seems to have been made just before the invasion, and it was significant of an anti-Greek movement. But the curious thing is that Himera—the city which was to be one of the first victims of the new policy heralded in this numismatic reform—abandoned her old coinage with the cock, and struck a new coinage with a sea-horse, on the Punic model of Panormus. Are we to suppose that Himera, aware of the peril which menaced her, thought to avert it by a timely approach of friendship to her Phoenician neighbour, and that this coinage was part of a policy of Punicism, intended to be only temporary?

Syracuse, although she had sought to do something for Selinus and had done something for Himera, felt no call to come forward as a champion against the new aggressive policy of Carthage. It was reserved for one of her citizens to attempt on his private responsibility the warfare which she declined to undertake against the Phoenician foe. The exile Hermocrates returned to Sicily, enriched by the gifts of the satrap Pharnabazus. His own city refused to withdraw the sentence of banishment, for a man of his views and abilities seemed dangerous to the democratic constitution. Hermocrates then resolved to earn his recall by performing conspicuous services to the Hellenic cause in Sicily,—by winning back the Greek territory which the Phoenician had taken, by carrying Greek arms into Phoenician territory itself. He had built five triremes, he had hired 1000 mercenaries, and he was joined by 1000 Himeraean fugitives. With these he marched to the spot where Selinus had once been, and made the place a centre for a “crusade” against the Phoenician. He repaired the fortifications of the acropolis on the central hill; and the remains of the well-built wall betray, by the capitals of columns used in the building, the circumstances of its erection. The adventure prospered; the band of Hermocrates soon increased to 6000, and he was able to devastate the lands of Motya and Panormus, and to drive back the forces which came out to meet him. In the same way he ravaged the territory of Solus and the now Carthaginian Segesta. These successes of Hermocrates were of greater significance than the actual injury dealt to the enemy. He had done what had not been done before (since the days of Dorieus); he had broken into the precincts of Phoenician Sicily, and set an example to many subsequent leaders.

Hermocrates was bent, above all things, on regaining his own country. Diocles and his political opponents were still powerful in the city, and able to hinder the revulsion of feeling which his successes caused from having any practical effect. Accordingly he made another attempt to soften the hearts of his fellow-citizens. It was a well-calculated move. He marched to the ruins of Himera, collected the unburied bones of the soldiers of Diocles which Diocles had neglected, and sent them on waggons to Syracuse, himself remaining as an exile outside the Syracusan borders. He hoped to awaken the religious sentiment of the citizens in his own favour and at the same time to turn it against his rival. The bones were received and Diocles was banished; but Hermocrates was not recalled. Having failed to compass his restoration by persuasion, the exile resolved to compass it by force; and he was encouraged by his numerous partisans in Syracuse. He was admitted with a small band at the gate of Achradina, and posted himself in the adjacent agora waiting for the rest of his forces to arrive. But they tarried too long; the people, learning that Hermocrates was in the city, rushed to the market-place; the small band was soon overcome and Hermocrates was slain. The Syracusans in these days were inspired with an instinctive rather than well-founded dread of tyranny; and this dread was stronger than admiration for Hermocrates. Their instinct was right; tyranny was approaching, but he was not the man. They little guessed that their future master was an obscure follower of Hermocrates, who was wounded that day in the agora and left for dead.


Sect. 2 . Carthaginian Conquest of Acragas

The private warfare of Hermocrates in western Sicily had naturally provoked the wrath of the Carthaginians. Embassies passed between Carthage and Syracuse, Carthage regarding Syracuse as answerable for the acts of a Syracusan. But diplomacy was merely a matter of form; the African republic had resolved to make all Greek Sicily subject to her sway. She made ready another great expedition—as great as if not greater than that which had been sent against Selinus; and at the same time she took the novel step of founding a colony on Sicilian soil. If Hermocrates had lived, Himera might have been partially restored like Selinus; but the destroyers of Himera now founded a city in the neighbourhood which was to take Himera’s place. On the hill above the “hot baths of the Nymphs”, whereof Pindar sings, the Carthaginian colonists built their town. But it was not destined to retain its Phoenician character. The Greek strangers who were admitted to dwell in it transformed it before long into a Greek city; the Thermae of Himera preserved the memories of Himera, and the people were known as Thermites or Himeraeans indifferently.

Acragas, the city which faces Carthage, was the first object of attack to the invaders who now came to conquer and enslave all Greek Sicily. Since the days of Theron, Acragas had held aloof from all struggles in the island and was now at the height of her prosperity. But she was enervated by peace and luxury, and, when the day of trial came, she was found wanting. How far her citizens were prepared to endure the hardships of military life may be inferred from the law—passed with a view to the present peril—that none of the men in the watch-towers should have more than a mattress, two pillows, and a quilt. Such were the austerities of the men of Acragas. But at least they paid homage to the different discipline of Sparta. They invited Dexippus, a Spartan who was then at Gela, to undertake the conduct of the defence. A body of Campanian mercenaries was hired; and they could rely on the assistance of their old rivals the Syracusans, as well as of the other Greek cities, who were fully conscious that the peril of Acragas was their own. And Acragas herself behaved well. Notwithstanding her habits of ease, and her old practice of holding aloof, she refused the tempting offer of the invader that she should now purchase immunity by remaining neutral. She was true to her own race; she might remain indifferent when it was a struggle between Dorian and Ionian, but it was another case when the whole of Sicilian Hellas was threatened by the Phoenician.

The army of Carthage was again under the command of Hannibal, (406 B.C.) who felt that he was too old for the work, and was assisted by his cousin Himilco. They pitched their main camp on the right bank of the river Hypsas, south-west of the city, and stationed some forces in another small camp on the eastern hill, beyond the river Acragas, to act against Greek aids coming from the east. The point of attack was the part of the western wall close to the chief western gate. But the ground, though lower here, was still difficult for a besieger, and Hannibal determined to raise an immense causeway from which the wall could be more effectively attacked. The tombs of the neighbouring necropolis supplied stones for the work; but, as the tomb of Theron was being broken down, it was shaken by a thunderbolt, and the seers advised that it must be spared. Then a pestilence broke out in the Carthaginian camp, and carried off Hannibal himself. It seemed that the gods were wroth and demanded a victim; Himilco lit the fires of Moloch and sacrificed a boy. The causeway was then completed, but no further injury was done to the sepulchres.

An army was already on its way to the relief of Acragas—30,000 foot and 5000 horse from Syracuse, Gela, and Camarina. When they approached the city they were met by the forces which had been placed for this purpose on the eastern hill; a battle was fought, a victory gained, and the Greek army took possession, of the lesser Carthaginian camp. Meanwhile the routed barbarians fled for refuge to the main camp, and their flight lay along the road beneath the southern wall of the city. There was a general cry to sally forth and cut them off; but the generals refused. The moment was lost; but presently the people, yielding to an impulse which the generals could not resist, went forth from the eastern gates to meet their victorious allies. A strange scene followed. A tumultuous assembly was held outside the walls; the Acragantine commanders were accused of failing in their duty; and, when they essayed to defend themselves, the fury of the people burst out and four generals were stoned to death. The direction of the defence seems now to have been shared by Dexippus within the city and Daphnaeus, the commander of the Syracusan troops, without. Though the hostile camp was too strong to be attacked, the prospect looked favourable for Acragas. The Punic army, diminished though it had been by the plague, was sore bestead for lack of supplies, and it seemed certain that hunger and mutinous soldiers would soon force Himilco to raise the siege. But he learned that provision-ships were coming from Syracuse to Acragas; he sent in haste for the Carthaginian vessels at Panormus and Motya, put out to sea with forty triremes, and intercepted the supplies. This not only saved his leaguer, but even reversed the situation. The besieged city now began to suffer from scarcity of food. And as soon as supplies began to run short, the weak point in the position of the Acragantines was displayed. They had found it needful to rely on mercenaries, and hirelings were not likely to serve long when rations ran short. The Campanians were easily induced to transfer their services from Acragas to Carthage. But this was not all. It was commonly believed that Dexippus—like most Spartans abroad, incapable of resisting a bribe—received fifteen talents from Himilco and induced the Italiot and Siceliot allies to desert Acragas as a sinking ship. But, whatever the conduct of Dexippus may have been, the discredit of this desertion cannot rest entirely with him.

The defence, which had been maintained for eight months with foreign aid, was now left to the men of Acragas alone. They showed at once that they were shaped of different stuff from the men of Selinus. Overcome with despair, they resolved to save their lives and abandon their city and their gods. Such a resolution, taken by the people of a great city, is unique in Greek history. It did not befit the men who had rejected the overtures of Hannibal, but it was what we might expect from the men who murdered their generals. They marched forth at night, men, women, and children, without let or hindrance from the foe; “they were compelled to leave, for the barbarians to pillage, those things which made their lives happy.”

The old and sick could not set out on the long journey to Gela, the place of refuge, and were left behind; some too remained who chose to perish at Acragas rather than live in another place. The army of Himilco entered the city in the morning and sacked it, slaying all whom they found, and despoiling and burning the temples. The great house of Olympian Zeus—the largest Greek temple in Europe—was still unfinished, and the sack of Himilco decided that it should never be completed. But Acragas was not to be destroyed like Selinus; it was intended to be a Carthaginian city in a Carthaginian Sicily. Himilco made the place his winter quarters ; Gela would be the next object of his attack, when the spring came round.


Sect. 3. Rise of Dionysius

For the catastrophe of Acragas the chief blame was laid upon the Syracusan generals, who deserted her in the critical hour. The Acragantines were not slow to make them responsible for their own unheroic flight. At Syracuse itself there was a feeling that these generals were hardly the men to meet the great jeopardy in which Sicily now stood; and there was one man who saw in the jeopardy the opportunity of his own ambition. It was Dionysius, a man of obscure birth, who had been a clerk in a public office. He had been a partisan of Hermocrates, by whose side he had stood in the last fatal fray, and had been wounded and left for dead. Recently he had marked himself out by his energy and bravery before the walls of Acragas. He saw the incompetence of the democratic government of his city; he saw that in the present peril it might be overthrown, and he determined to overthrow it. An assembly was held to consider the situation. Dionysius arose and in a violent accused the generals of treachery. His language was intended to stir up the hearers to fury; he called upon the people to rise up themselves and destroy the traitors without trial. His violence transgressed the constitutional rules of the assembly, but the presidents had no power to bridle him; they imposed a fine—the only resource they had; but a wealthy friend, Philistus the historian, came forward and Philistus paid the fine, bidding the speaker go on, for as often as a fine was the imposed he would pay it. Dionysius carried his point. The generals were deposed, and a new board was appointed, of which Dionysius was one. This was only the first step on the road which was to lead to the tyrannis. His next success was to procure the recall of the partisans of Hermocrates who had been condemned to exile; these old comrades might be useful to him in his designs. At the same time he sought to discredit his colleagues; he kept entirely apart from them and spread reports that they were disloyal to Syracuse. Presently he openly accused them, and the people elected him sole general with sovereign powers to meet the instant danger. This office, held before, as we have reason to think, by Gelon and Hiero, did not set him above the laws; nor was the office illegal, though extraordinary; it may be compared to the Roman dictatorship. But it was the second step to the tyranny. The next step, as history taught him—the story of Pisistratus, for instance—was to procure a bodyguard. The Assembly at Syracuse, which had perhaps begun to repent already of having placed so much power in the hands of one man, would certainly not have granted such an instrument of tyranny. But Dionysius was ingenious; he saw that the thing might be done elsewhere. He ordered the Syracusan army to march to Leontini, which, it will be remembered, was now a Syracusan dependency. He encamped near the town, and during the night a rumour was spread abroad that the general’s life had been attempted and he had been compelled to seek refuge in the acropolis. An assembly was held next day, nominally an assembly of Syracusan citizens, which, when Dionysius laid bare the designs of his enemies, voted him a bodyguard of 600; this he soon increased to 1000; and he had won over the mercenaries to his cause.

These were the three steps in the “despot’s progress” which rendered Dionysius lord and master of Syracuse. His intrigues had won him first a generalship, then sole generalship with unlimited military powers, and finally a bodyguard. Syracuse, unwilling and embarrassed, submitted with evident chagrin, but was dominated by the double dread of the mercenaries and the Carthaginians. The democracy of course was not formally overthrown; Dionysius held no office that upset the constitution. Things went on as at Athens under Pisistratus; the Assembly met and passed decrees and elected magistrates.

The justification of the power of Dionysius lay in the need of an able champion to oppose Carthage, and his partisans represented him as a second Gelon. But, though Dionysius was in later years to prove himself among the chief champions of Hellenic Sicily against the Punic power, his conduct at this crisis did not fulfil the hopes of those who thought to compare him with the hero of Himera. The Carthaginians were already encamped at Gela. Their first act was to remove a colossal brazen statue of Apollo which stood, looking over the sea, on the hill to the west of the city. The Geloans defended their walls with courage and zeal, and when Dionysius arrived with an army of Italiots and Siceliots, and a fleet of fifty ironclad ships to co-operate, it seemed as if Gela would escape the doom of Acragas. An excellent plan was arranged for a combined attack on the Carthaginian camp, which lay on the west side of the town. The plan failed, because the concert was not accurately carried out. The Siceliots who were to assault the eastern side of the camp arrived late on the spot, and found the enemy, who had already repelled the attack of the Italiots and the fleet on the southern and western sides, free to meet them in full force. This hitch in the execution of the plan was hardly a mere blunder. Dionysius with his mercenaries had undertaken to issue from the western gate of Gela and drive away the besiegers, while the rest of his army were attacking the camp. It seems, however, that Dionysius took no part in the fighting, and alleged that he was retarded by difficulties in crossing the town from the eastern to the western gate. We shall probably do no injustice to Dionysius if we conclude that it was through his dispositions that the Siceliots failed to act in concert with the Italiots. The action which he took after the defeat shows that he was half-hearted in the work. He decided in a private council, as Diocles had decided at Himera, that the defence must be abandoned and the whole people of Gela removed. At the first watch of the night he Gela and sent the multitude forth from the city, and followed himself at Camarina midnight. His way to Syracuse led by Camarina, and here too dispeopled. Dionysius ruled that the whole people must forsake their home. The road to Syracuse was full of the crowds of helpless fugitives from the two cities.

It was generally thought that these strange proceedings of Dionysius were carried out in collusion with the barbarians; that he had deliberately betrayed to them Gela, which might have been defended, Camarina, which had not yet been attacked. The Italiot allies showed not their disgust only, but their apprehension that the war was practically over, by marching immediately home. The horsemen of Syracuse seized the occasion for a desperate attempt to subvert the new tyrant. They rode rapidly to the city, plundered the house of Dionysius, and maltreated his wife although she was the daughter of Hermocrates. When Dionysius heard the news, he hastened to Syracuse with a small force. He reached the gate of Achradina by night and, being refused admittance, burned it down with a fire of reeds supplied by the neighbouring marsh. In the market-place he easily overmastered a handful of opponents; the remnant fled to Aetna, which now became, “in a better cause, what Eleusis was to Athens after the overthrow of the Thirty”.

In what concerns the charge that the Syracusan tyrant had a secret understanding with Carthage, there is a strong case against him; the events are scarcely intelligible on any other view. But it was no more than a temporary disloyalty to the cause of Hellas and Europe, for which he was hereafter to do great feats. His first motive was the selfish motive of a tyrant. He wanted time to lay stable foundations for his still precarious power at Syracuse; and he judged that it would be a strong support to obtain a recognition of his power from the Carthaginian republic. The Punicism of the lord of Syracuse was not more unscrupulous than the Medism of the ephors of Sparta, to which it is the western parallel.

The treaty, which was now agreed upon between Himilco and Dionysius, was drawn up on the basis of uti possidetis. Each party retained what it actually held at the time. Syracuse acknowledged Carthage as mistress of all the Greek states on the northern and southern coasts, and also of the Sican communities. Acragas, what left of Selinus, Gela, and Camarina, were all to be henceforward under Punic sway; and, on the north coast, Carthage had advanced her frontier to include the territory of Himera in which she had planted her first colony. But all these cities were not to hold the same relation to their mistress. Acragas and Selinus, like Thermae, were subjects in the full sense of the word; but Gela and Camarina were to be only tributary and unwalled cities. The Elymian towns are not mentioned; but we have seen how Segesta became a subject of Carthage by her own act, and we can hardly doubt that Eryx was forced into the same condition.

The terms of the treaty provided for the independence of the Sicel communities and of the city of Messana. But it provided also for the independence of Leontini, and this was a point in which it departed from the basis uti possidetis, Leontini being a dependency of Syracuse. It was clearly a provision extorted from Dionysius, and intended by Himilco to be a source of embarrassment to Syracuse. On the other hand, as a counter-concession, nothing was said about the dependence of Naxos or Catane, so that Syracuse might have a free hand to deal with her old enemies, without fear of violating the treaty. Such was the new arrangement of the map of Sicily at the end of the second Carthaginian invasion. An accidental consequence of that invasion had been to establish Dionysius as tyrant of Syracuse. This consequence enabled Himilco to bring his work to a conclusion more easily and quickly than he had hoped; he could not foresee that the undoing of his work would be the ultimate result. The Carthaginians guaranteed to maintain the rule of Dionysius, who was soon to prove one of their most powerful foes. For Dionysius this guaranty, “the Syracusans shall be subject to Dionysius,” was the most important clause in the treaty,—some suppose that it was a secret clause. It was for the sake of this recognition and the implied promise of support that he stooped to betray Sicilian Hellas. We shall see how he redeemed this unscrupulous act of expediency by creating the most powerful Hellenic state in the Europe of his day.


Sect. 4. First Years of Dionysius

For half a century after the fall of Athens it seemed likely that the destinies of Europe would be decided by a Greek city in the western Mediterranean. Under her new lord Dionysius, Syracuse had become a great power, a greater power than any that had yet arisen in Europe. In strength and dominion, in influence and promise, she outstripped all the cities of the mother-country; and, in a general survey of the Mediterranean coasts, she stands out clearly as the leading European power. The Greek states to which the Persian King sent down his Peace were now flanked on either side by two great powers, and a political prophet might have been tempted to foretell that the communities of old Greece were doomed to perish between the monarchies of Susa and Syracuse, which threatened their freedom on the east and on the west. Those who were tempted to spy into the future might have conjectured that the ultimate conflict with Persia was reserved for a Sicilian conqueror, who should one day extend his dominion over eastern Greece and the Aegean and, as autocrat of Europe, oppose the autocrat of Asia. Though this was not to be, though the expansion of Sicily was arrested, and the power which was to subdue Asia arose on the borders of Old Greece, yet we shall see that in many ways the monarchy of Dionysius foreshadowed the monarchy of Philip and Alexander. It is in Sicily, not in Old Greece, that we see the first signs of a new epoch, in which large states are to take the place of small, and monarchy is to supersede free institutions.

The tyranny of Dionysius lasted for thirty-eight years, till the end of his life. All that time it was maintained by force; all that time it was recognised as a violation of the constitution and an outrage on the freedom of the people. The forms of the constitution were still maintained; the folk still met and voted in the his long Assembly; and Dionysius was either annually re-elected, or permanently appointed, general with absolute powers. But all this was pure form; his position was a fact, which had no constitutional name, and which made the constitution of none effect. And it was by compulsion and not of their freewill that the mass of the citizens continued to obey him; his bodyguard of foreign mercenaries was the support of his power. More than one attempt was made to throw off the yoke, but his craft and energy defeated the most determined efforts of his adversaries. Yet the unusual ability of Dionysius would not have availed, more than the spearmen who were ever within call, to extend his unlawful reign to a length which a tyrant’s reign seldom reached, if he had not discovered and laid to heart what may be called a secret of tyranny. While he did cruel and oppressive deeds for political purposes, he never committed outrages to gratify personal desires of his own. He scrupulously avoided all those acts of private insolence which have brought the reigns of Greek tyrants into such ill repute. Many a despot had fallen by the hand of fathers or lovers, whom the dishonour of their nearest, and dearest had spurred to the pursuit of vengeance at the risk of their own lives. Dionysius eschewed this mistake; his crimes and his enemies were political. When his son seduced a married woman, the discreet tyrant rebuked him. “It is well for you to chide me,” said the young man, “but you had not a tyrant for your father.” “And if you go on doing this sort of thing,” retorted Dionysius, “you will not have a tyrant for your son.” This notable moderation of Dionysius in private life was perhaps the chief cause of the duration of his tyranny; beyond the common motive of patriotism, men had no burning personal wrongs to spur them to encounter the danger of driving a dagger to the despot’s heart. But, besides this discretion which made his government tolerable, his successes abroad counted for something, and it was more than once borne in on Syracuse that his rule was necessary to protect her against her enemies. And we shall see that Dionysius was fully conscious that it conduced to his own safety that there should be enemies against whom she needed a protector.

The first concern of the new tyrant was to establish himself in a stronghold. As we have seen, the acropolis of Syracuse was not, as in other cities, the hill, but the Island; and it was the Island which Dionysius made his fortress. He built a turreted wall on the north side of the isthmus so as to bar the Island off from the mainland, and he built two castles, one close to, if not on, the isthmus, the other at the southern point of the island. Whoever entered the Island from Achradina had to pass under five successive gates; and no one was allowed to dwell within the island fortress except those whom Dionysius regarded as his own friends and supporters. The scheme of fortifications took in the Lesser Harbour, which, with its new docks, became under Dionysius the chief arsenal of the Syracusan naval power. The mouth of this port was entirely closed by a mole, the galleys passing in and out through a gate, which was only wide enough to allow one to pass at a time.

Besides these defences of stone, Dionysius strengthened his position by dealing rich rewards to confirm in their allegiance his friends and hirelings, and by forming a class of New Citizens out of enfranchised slaves. The forfeited estates of his enemies supplied him with the means of carrying out both these acts of policy.

It was not long before he had an unwelcome occasion of putting to the test both the walls of his fortress and the hearts of his followers. The most favourable opportunity for any attempt to overthrow the tyrant was when the Syracusan army was in the field. When the citizens had arms in their hands and were formed in military ranks, the word of a patriot could more easily kindle them to action than when they were engaged in their peaceable occupations at home. Dionysius led out the army against Herbessus, one of the cities of the Sicels. Mutinous talk passed from mouth to mouth, and the disaffected citizens slew one of the tyrant’s officers who rebuked them. Then the mutiny broke out loud and free. Dionysius hastened to Syracuse and shut himself up in his fastness; the revolted citizens followed and laid siege to their own city. They sent messages to Messana and Rhegium, asking these cities to help them to win back their freedom; and a succour of eighty triremes came in answer to their help. By sea and land they pressed Dionysius so hard in his island fortress that his case seemed desperate, and some of his mercenary troops went over to the enemy. Dionysius called a council of his most trusted friends. Some bade him flee on a swift horse; others counselled him to stay till he was driven out. Heloris used a phrase which became famous: “Sovereign power is a fair winding-sheet.” Dionysius followed the counsel of those who bade him stay, but he resorted to a piece of craft which was more successful than he could well have hoped. He entered into negotiation with his besiegers and asked for permission to quit Syracuse with his own goods. They willingly agreed to the proposal and allowed him five triremes, and they were so convinced of his good faith that they dismissed a company of cavalry which had come to their aid from Aetna. But, meanwhile, Dionysius had sent a secret message to the Campanian mercenaries of Carthage, who had been left by Himilco in some part of Sicily. Twelve hundred in number, they were permitted to come to the help of the tyrant, whose lordship had been recognised and guaranteed by Carthage in the recent treaty. The besiegers, thinking that the struggle was over, had half broken up their leaguer, and were in complete disorder; the Campanians occupied the hills of Epipolae without resistance; Dionysius sallied forth, and decisively, though without much shedding of blood, defeated the rebels in the neighbourhood of the theatre—a quarter of the city which we now find for the first time called Neapolis. Dionysius used his victory mildly. Many of the rebels fled to Aetna and refused to return to Syracuse, but those who returned were received kindly and not punished. As for the Campanians, to whom Dionysius owed his rescue, they did not return to the service of Carthage, but made a new home in the west of Sicily, in the Sican town of Entella. They induced the inhabitants to admit them as new citizens, and one night they arose and slew all the men and married the women. Thus was formed the first Italian settlement on Sicilian soil.

When the revolt broke out, we saw Dionysius aiming an attack at a Sicel city. The first step in the expansion of Syracusan power, which was the object of the tyrant’s ambition, was the reduction of the Greek cities of the eastern coast and the neighbouring Sicel towns. The Sicel towns were putting on more and more of an Hellenic character, and the reign of Dionysius marks a stage of progress in their Hellenization. We get a glimpse of political parties striving in Sicel just as in Greek cities  and we find Henna ruled by a tyrant of Greek name. To attack the Sicels was indeed a breach of the treaty with Carthage; but for the present Dionysius gained no success which obliged Carthage to intervene. He entered Henna indeed, but only to overthrow the local tyrant and leave the inhabitants to enjoy their freedom; he attacked Herbita, but his attack was fruitless. With the Greek cities which stood in his way he was more successful. First of all he captured Aetna, the refuge of Syracusan exiles and malcontents, and these dangerous enemies dispersed we know not whither. Then he turned against the two Ionian cities, Catane and Naxos. In fear of such an attack Catane had taken the precaution of allying herself with Syracuse’s former vassal, Leontini. The sole record we have of this alliance is a beautiful little silver coin, with a laurelled head of Apollo and the names of the two cities—one of an issue which was struck in token of the treaty. But the support of Leontini did not avail. Both Catane and Naxos were won by gold, not by the sword; traitors opened the gates to the Dorian tyrant.

In his treatment of these cities Dionysius showed himself in his worst light. All the inhabitants of Naxos and Catane alike were sold as slaves in the Syracusan slave-market. Catane was given over to Campanian mercenaries as a dwelling-place, and thus became the second Italian town in Sicily. But the city of Naxos, the most ancient of all the Siceliot cities, was not even given to a stranger to dwell in; the walls and the houses were destroyed; the territory was bestowed upon the Sicels, the descendants of the original possessors; and a small settlement near the old site barely maintained the memory of the name. Dionysius was one of the ablest champions of Greek Sicily against the Phoenician; yet here he appears in the character Nea of a destroyer, dealing to Greek civilisation blows such as we should expect only from the Phoenician foe. It is certain indeed that the severity of the doom which he meted out to these cities was meant to serve a purpose, for wanton severity was never practised by Dionysius. We may suspect what that purpose was. The conquest of Naxos and Catane was of far less consequence to the lord of Syracuse than 0 the recovery of Leontini. To win back this lost Syracusan possession was the first object of all in the eyes of a Syracusan ruler. Dionysius had already called upon the Leontines to surrender, but in vain; and perhaps he thought that the siege of the place would be long and tedious. When he pronounced the doom of Naxos and Catane, he was in truth besieging Leontini with most effectual engines; and when he approached with his army and summoned the Leontines to migrate to Syracuse and become his subjects under the name of Syracusan citizens, they did not hesitate to prefer that unwelcome change to the risk of faring still worse than the folks of Catane and Naxos.

If we glance over Sicily at this moment, it comes upon us as a shock to discover that of all the cities of Greek Sicily which enjoyed sovereign powers at the time of the Athenian invasion, there remained now not a single independent community, outside Syracuse herself, with exception of Messana, who still kept watch upon her strait. The Carthaginians and Dionysius between them had swept all away.

The recovery of the Leontine territory was a success which probably gratified the Syracusans as well as their master. It was indeed a direct defiance of Carthage, for the treaty had guaranteed the independence of Leontini. But Dionysius knew that a struggle with Carthage must come, and was not unwilling that it should come soon. He determined to equip Syracuse against all enemies who should come against her, and we next find him engaged in fortifying the city on an enormous scale. The fortification of the Island had been intended mainly for his own safety against domestic enemies; but the works which he now undertook were for the city and not for the tyrant. The Athenian siege of Syracuse taught him lessons which he had taken to heart. It taught him that the commanding heights of Epipolae must not be left for an enemy to seize, and therefore that it must become part of the Syracusan city, enclosed within the circuit of the Syracusan wall. It taught too the decisive importance of the western corner at Euryalos, and the necessity of constructing a strong fortress at that point, which has been called “the key of Epipolae and of all Syracuse.” The walls were built in an incredibly short space of time by 60,000 freemen, under the supervision of Dionysius himself. He seems to have inspired the citizens with the ambition of making their city the most strongly fortified place in the whole Greek world. The northern wall, from Tycha to Euryalos, a distance of more than three miles, was completed in twenty days. The striking ruins of the massive castle of Euryalos, with its curious underground chambers, are a memorial indeed of a tyrant’s rule; but they are more than that; they are a monument of Greek Syracuse at the period of her greatest might — when she became for a moment the greatest power in Europe.

It was no small thing to have carried out this enormous system of fortifications which made Syracuse the vastest of all Greek cities, but Dionysius showed his surpassing energy and resource in preparing for offensive as well as for defensive warfare. In military innovations he is the forerunner of the great Macedonians and the originator of the methods which they employed. He first thought out and taught how the heterogeneous parts of a military armament — the army and the navy, the cavalry and the infantry, the heavy and the light troops — might be closely and systematically co-ordinated so as to act as if they were a single organic body. He first introduced, his engineers first invented, the catapult, which, if it did not revolutionise warfare in general like the discovery of gunpowder, certainly revolutionised siege warfare, and introduced a new element into military operations. An engine which hurled a stone of two or three hundredweight for a distance of two or three hundred yards was extremely formidable in close quarters. In naval warfare he was also an innovator; he constructed ships of huger size than had ever been built before, with five banks of oars. He largely increased the fleet, which, counting vessels of both the larger and the smaller kind, seems to have numbered about 300 galleys.


Sect. 5. First Punic War of Dionysius

When his preparations were complete, Dionysius went forth to do what no Greek leader in Sicily had ever done before. He went forth not merely to deliver Greek cities from Phoenician rule, but to conquer Phoenician Sicily itself. Marching along the south coast he was hailed as a deliverer by the Greek dependencies of Carthage, both by the tributary towns Gela and Camarina, and the subject town of Acragas. Thermae on the northern coast likewise joined him, and of the two Elymian towns, Eryx received his overtures, while Segesta remained faithful to her Punic mistress. At the head of a host, which for a Greek army seems immense — 80,000 foot, it is said, and more than 3000 horse— Dionysius advanced to test his new siege engines on the walls of Motya. This city, which now for the first and for the last time becomes the centre of a memorable episode in history, was like the original Syracuse, an island town; but, though it was joined to the mainland by a causeway, the town did not like Syracuse spread to the mainland. It was surrounded entirely by a wall, of which traces still remain; and the bay in which it lay was protected on the sea side by a long spit of land.

The men of Motya were determined to withstand the invader to the uttermost, and the first measure they took was to insulate themselves completely by breaking down the causeway which bound them to the mainland. Thus they hoped that Dionysius would have to trust entirely to his ships to conduct the siege, and that he would be unable to make use of his artillery. But they knew not the enterprise of Dionysius nor the excellence of his engineer department. The tyrant was determined to assault the city from solid ground, and to bring his terrible engines close to the walls. He set the crews of his ships to the work of building a mole far greater than the causeway which the Motyans had destroyed; the ships themselves, which he did not destine to play any part in the business of the siege, he drew up on the northern coast of the bay. The mole of Dionysius at Motya forestalls a more famous mole which we shall hereafter see erected by a greater than Dionysius at another Phoenician island town, older and more illustrious than Motya.

While the mole was being built, Dionysius made expeditions in the neighbourhood. He won over the Sicans from their Carthaginian allegiance, and he laid siege to Elymian Segesta and Campanian Entella. Both these cities repelled his attacks, and leaving them under blockade he returned to Motya when the solid bridge was completed. In the meantime, Carthage was preparing an effort to rescue the menaced city. She tried to cause a diversion by sending a few galleys to Syracuse, and some damage was caused to ships that were lying in the Great Harbour. But Dionysius was not to be diverted from his enterprise; he had doubtless foreseen such an attempt to lure him away, and knew that there was no real danger. Himilco, the Carthaginian admiral, seeing that Dionysius was immovable, sailed with a large force to Motya and entered the bay, with the purpose of destroying the Syracusan fleet, which was drawn up on the shore. Dionysius seems to have been taken by surprise. For whatever reason, he made no attempt to launch his galleys; he merely placed archers and slingers on those ships which would be first attacked. But he brought his army round to the peninsula which forms the western side of the bay, and on the shores of this strip of land he placed his new engines. The catapults hurled deadly volleys of stones upon Himilco’s ships, and the novelty of these crushing missiles, which they were quite unprepared to meet, utterly disconcerted the Punic sailors, and the Carthaginians retreated. Then Dionysius, who was no less ready to treat earth as water than to turn sea into land, laid wooden rollers across the neck of land which formed the northern side of the bay, and hauled his whole fleet into the open sea. But Himilco did not tarry to give him battle there; he went back to Carthage, and the men of Motya were left unaided to abide their fate.

As the site of the island city required a special road of approach, so its architecture demanded a special device of assault. Since the space in the city was limited, its wealthy inhabitants had to seek dwelling-room by raising high towers into the air; and to attack these towers Dionysius constructed siege towers of corresponding height, with six storeys, which he moved up near the walls on wheels. These wooden belfries, as they were called in the Middle Ages, were not a new invention, but they had never perhaps been built to such a height before, and it is not till the Macedonian age, which Dionysius in so many ways foreshadows, that they came into common use. It was a strange sight to see the battle waged in mid-air. The defenders of the stone towers had one advantage; they were able to damage some of the wooden towers of the enemy by lighted brands and pitch. But the arrangements of Dionysius were so well ordered that this device wrought little effect; and the Phoenicians could not stand on the wall which was swept by his catapults, while the rams battered it below. Presently a breach was made, and the struggle began in earnest. The Motyans had no thought of surrender; dauntless to the end they defended their streets and houses inch by inch. Missiles rained on the heads of the Greeks who thronged through, and each of the lofty houses had to be besieged like a miniature town. The wooden towers were wheeled within the walls; from their topmost storeys bridges were flung across to the upper storeys of the houses, and in the face of the desperate inhabitants the Greek soldiers rushed across these dizzy ways, often to be flung down into the street below. At night the combat ceased; both besiegers and besieged rested. The issue was indeed certain; for however bravely the Motyans might fight, they were far outnumbered. But day after day the fighting went on in the same way, and Motya was not taken. The losses on the Greek side were great, and Dionysius became impatient. Accordingly he planned a night assault, which the Motyans did not look for, and this was successful. By means of ladders a small band entered the part of the town which was still defended, and then admitted the rest of the army through a gate. There was a short and sharp struggle, which soon became a massacre. The Greeks had no thought of plunder, they thought only of vengeance. Now for the first time a Phoenician town had fallen into their hands, and they resolved to do to it as the Phoenicians had done to Greek cities. They remembered how Hannibal had dealt with Himera. At length Dionysius stayed the slaughter, which was not to his mind, since every corpse was a captive less to be sold. Then the victors turned to spoil the city, and its wealth was abandoned to them without any reserve. All the prisoners were sold into slavery, except some Greek mercenaries, whose treachery to the Hellenic cause was expiated by the death of crucifixion. A Sicel garrison was left in the captured city.

After this achievement, the like of which had not been wrought before in Sicilian history, Dionysius retired for the winter to Syracuse. Next spring he marched forth again to press the siege which was still under blockade. In the meantime the fall of Motya had awakened Carthage into action; she saw that she must bestir herself, if she was not to let her whole Sicilian dominion slip out of her hands. Himilco was appointed Shophet and entrusted with the work of saving Punic Sicily. He collected a force, which seems to have been at least as large as that which Dionysius had brought into the field, and set sail with sealed orders for Panormus. A small portion of the armament was sunk by Leptines, brother of Dionysius, who was in command of the Syracusan fleet; but the main part disembarked in safety. And then events happened in rapid succession, which are hard to explain. Himilco first gains possession of Eryx by treason; then he marches to Motya and captures it; and when Motya is lost, Dionysius raises the siege of Segesta and returns to Syracuse. The loss of Eryx and Motya could not be provided against; but it is hard to discern why Dionysius should have made no attempt to relieve Motya, whose capture had cost him so much the year before, or why he should have allowed the Carthaginian army to march from Panormus to Eryx and Motya without attempting to intercept it. He could not have more effectually pressed the siege of Segesta than by dealing a decided check to Himilco. Not knowing the exact circumstances, not knowing even the number of the two armies, we can hardly judge his action; but it may be suspected that Dionysius was by nature a man who did not care to risk a pitched battle, unless the advantage were distinctly on his own side. It is to be remembered that he won nearly all his successes by sieges and surprises, by diplomacy and craft, and that the name of this great military innovator is not associated with a single famous battle in the open field. When he had once allowed Motya to be taken, his retreat is not surprising; for he had no base in the western part of the island, and we are told that his supplies were failing. He had now lost all that he had won in the first campaign. Motya, however, was wiped out as a Phoenician city, though it was not to be a Greek or Sicel stronghold. Himilco, instead of restoring the old colony, founded a new city hard by to take its place. On the promontory of the mainland which forms the south side of the Motyan bay arose the city of Lilybaeum, which was henceforward to be the great stronghold of Carthaginian power in the west of the island. The sea washed two sides of the town, and the walls of the other two sides were protected by enormous ditches cut in the rock. The history of Lilybaeum is the continuation of the history of Motya; but it was not destined to be taken either by a Greek or a Roman besieger.

Having driven the invader from Phoenician Sicily, and having laid the foundations of a new city, Himilco resolved to carry his arms into the lands of the enemy and to attack Syracuse itself. But he did not go directly against Syracuse. Before he attempted that mighty fortress, he would try the easier task of capturing Messana. The fall of this city would be a grievous blow to Hellas, and it would be no mean vengeance for the fall of Motya. The walls of Messana had been allowed to fall into decay, and the place was an easy prey for the Carthaginians; but the greater part of the inhabitants escaped into fortresses in the neighbouring hills. The Carthaginian general had to wreak his vengeance on the stones. He raised the walls and the edifices, and the work was done so well that no man, we are told, would have recognised the site.

If the triumphant demolition of the Sicilian city which watched the strait was a sore blow to the Hellenic cause, Himilco sought at the same moment to deal another blow to that cause by the foundation of a new Sicilian city in another place. It was his policy to cultivate the friendship of the Sicels and to foment the dislike which they felt towards the lord of Syracuse. Dionysius too had sought to win influence over the native race, and we saw how he gave them the territory of Naxos. The Carthaginian general grasped at the idea of erecting a new town for these very Sicels of Naxos, on the heights of Taurus which rise above the old site. Such was the strange origin of the strong city of Tauromenion, with its two rock citadels, one of the fairest sites in Sicily. It was the second foundation of Himilco in the same year ; and both his foundations were destined signally to prosper. Lilybaeum became more famous than Motya, and Tauromenion has had a greater place in history than Naxos. As a founder of cities Himilco has a high title to fame; he was, like Dionysius, a creator as well as a destroyer. The creation of new cities and the destruction of old, by Greeks and Phoenicians alike, was a characteristic feature of this epoch.

Dionysius was preparing in the meantime to protect Syracuse. He committed the command of the fleet, which appears to have been now about 200 strong, to his brother Leptines; and fleet and army together moved northward to Catane. In the waters near the shore of Catane a naval battle was fought, and the Greek armament was defeated with great loss. It was indeed far outnumbered by the fleet of the Phoenicians, who also used their transport vessels as warships; but the cause of the disaster was the bad generalship of Leptines, who did not keep his ships together. The rout was witnessed by Dionysius from the shore, and it might have been retrieved by a victory on the land. Himilco and his army had not yet arrived on the scene, for an eruption of Aetna had made the direct road impassable and forced them to make a long détour. Dionysius again shrank from risking a battle, though the men of Sicily were eager to fight; he retreated to the walls of Syracuse. This city was the last bulwark of Greek Sicily, and with it the cause of Greek civilisation was in jeopardy. It was a moment at which the Siceliots might well sue for help from their fellow-Greeks beyond the sea. Dionysius dispatched messages to Italy, to Corinth, and to Sparta, imploring urgently for succour.

It was not long before the victorious Carthaginian fleet sailed into the Great Harbour, and the Carthaginian army encamped hard by, along the banks of the Anapus. The mass of the host encamped as well as it could in the swamp, but the general pitched his tent on the high ground of Polichna, within the precinct of the Olympian Zeus. This insult to the religion of Hellas was followed up by a more awful sacrilege, when Himilco pillaged the temple of Demeter and Kore on the southern slope of Epipolae. When the barbarians began to perish in the plague-stricken marsh, the pestilence was imputed to the divine vengeance for these acts of outrage. The besiegers must have sat for no brief space before the walls of Syracuse. The messengers of Dionysius had time to reach the Peloponnesus and return with succour — thirty ships under a Lacedaemonian admiral. Himilco had time to build three forts to protect his army and his fleet — one near his own quarters at Polichna, one at Dascon, on the western shore of the harbour, and one at Plemmyrion. After the arrival of the auxiliaries, the capture of a Punic cornship was the occasion of a small naval combat in the harbour ; only a few of the Carthaginian ships were engaged, and the Syracusans were victorious.

Within the town there was deep dissatisfaction with Dionysius and his conduct of the war, and the citizens thought that they might reckon on the sympathy of their Peloponnesian allies with an attempt to cast off the tyrant’s yoke. At an assembly which the tyrant convened the feeling of dissatisfaction broke openly forth, and the lord of Syracuse could not only read in the faces but hear in the words of the citizens the depth of their hatred. But the movement of revolution was checked by the Peloponnesians, who said that their business was to help Dionysius against the Carthaginians, not to help the Syracusans against Dionysius. So the danger passed over, but the tyrant had a warning, and he put on winning manners and courted popularity.

The deadly airs of the swamp, in the burning heat of summer, were doing their work. The army of Himilco was ravaged by pestilence; soon the soldiers fell so fast that they could not be buried. The hour had now come for the men of the city to complete the destruction which their fens had begun. It was just such a case as called forth the energy and craft of the ruler of Syracuse and showed him at his best. He devised his attack with great skill. Eighty galleys, under Leptines and the Spartan captain, were to attack the Carthaginian fleet, which was anchored off the shore of Dascon. He himself led the land forces, marching by a roundabout road on a moonless night, and suddenly appeared at dawn on the west side of the Punic camp. He ordered his horsemen and a thousand mercenaries to attack the camp here ; but the horsemen had secret commands to abandon the hired soldiers once they were in the thick of the fight, and ride rapidly round to the east of the camp, where the true attack was to be made. The attack on the west was only a feint, to distract the attention of the enemy from the other side; and for this purpose Dionysius sacrificed the lives of the hirelings whom he did not trust. The real attack on the east was made on the forts of Dascon and Polichna. Dascon was assailed by the horsemen along with a special force of triremes which had been sent across the bay; Dionysius himself went round to lead the attack on Polichna. The plan was carried out with perfect success. The thousand hirelings were cut to pieces, the forts were captured, and the victory on the land was crowned by the destruction of the Carthaginian fleet. The Syracusan galleys bore down upon the enemy, before they had time fully to man their vessels, much less to row well out to sea, and the beaks of the triremes crashed into defenceless timber. There was slaughter, but hardly a fight; and then the land troops, fresh from their victory, rushed down to the beach and set fire to the transports and all vessels which had not left the shore. A wild scene followed. A high wind propagated the flames; the cables were burnt asunder; and the bay of Dascon was filled with drifting fireships, while amid the waters despairing swimmers were making for the shore.

Fate had indeed delivered the barbarians into the hands of the Greeks; and the Greeks were determined to wreak their vengeance to the uttermost and extirpate the destroyers of Messana. Dionysius had approved himself the successor of Gelon; the double victory of Dascon was worthy to be set beside the victory of Himera. But Dionysius was not capable of absolute sincerity in the part he played as the champion of Hellas ; he could not act to the end as a Syracusan patriot with singleness of heart. This was the fatality of his position as a tyrant, conscious that his autocracy rested on unstable foundations. He fought against Carthage, but it was always with the resolve that the power of the Carthaginians should not be annihilated in Sicily. The Punic peril was a security for his tyranny, by making him necessary to Syracuse. The Syracusans must look to him as their protector against the ever-present barbarian foe. This was another secret of tyranny discovered by Dionysius. The Punic subtlety of Himilco, enlightened by passages in the tyrant’s past career, formed no doubt a shrewd idea of this side of his policy; the Carthaginian saw that his hope of safety lay in bargaining with Dionysius. Secret messages passed; and Dionysius agreed to allow Himilco along with all those who were Carthaginian citizens to sail away at night. In payment for this collusion he received three Escape of hundred talents. Dionysius recalled his reluctant army from their Himilco by assaults on the camp, and left it in peace for three days. On the fourth night Himilco set sail with forty triremes, leaving his allies and his mercenaries to their fate. It was an act of desertion which was likely to repel mercenary soldiers from the Carthaginian service in the future; and this was doubtless foreseen by the crafty tyrant. But the squadron of fugitive triremes did not escape untouched. The noise of the oars as they sailed out of the Harbour was detected by the Corinthian allies, and they gave the alarm to Dionysius. But Dionysius was purposely slow in his preparations to pursue, and the impatient Corinthians sailed out without his orders and sank some of the hindmost of the Punic vessels. Having connived at the escape of Himilco, the tyrant was energetic in dealing with the remnant of Himilco’s host. The Sicel allies had escaped to their own homes, and only the mercenaries were left. These were slain or made slaves, with the exception of a band of strong and valiant Iberians who were taken into the service of the tyrant.

Thus ended the first struggle of Dionysius with Carthage, and it ended in a complete triumph for the Greek cause. The dominion of the African city was now circumscribed within its old western corner; and the greater part of the rest of Sicily was subject, directly or indirectly, to the rule of the lord of Syracuse. Both from Greek and from barbarian Sicily, a famous city had been blotted out; but Motya had been revived in Lilybaeum, and Messana was soon to rise again upon her ruins.


Sect. 6. Second Punic War, and Sicel Conquests of Dionysius

The equivocal policy of Dionysius in his hostilities to Carthage was manifested clearly enough in the course which he pursued after his great victory. It was the most favourable moment that had yet come in the struggle of centuries, for driving the barbarians out and making Sicily a Greek island from the eastern to the western shore. Carthage could not readily gather together such another armament as that which had been destroyed. No patriot leader who was devoted to the Greek cause heart and soul, with singleness of aim, would have failed to follow up the great success by an invasion of western Sicily. But the preservation of his own precarious despotism was the guiding principle of Dionysius; and he saw in the barbarian corner of the island a palladium of his power.

The next Punic War broke out five years later, and part of the meantime had been occupied by Dionysius in extending his power over the Sicels. He annexed to his dominion Morgantina, Cephaloedion, and Henna itself ; he made treaties with the tyrants of Agyrion and Centuripa, and with other places. But among all the Sicel towns, that which it was most important for him to win was the new foundation of the Carthaginian on the heights of Taurus. He laid siege to Tauromenium in the depth of winter. Operations of war in the winter season are one of the features of the reign of Dionysius, which separate it from the habits of older Greece and link it to the age of the Macedonian monarchy. The tyrant himself led his men on a wild and moonless night up the steep ascent to the town. One of the citadels was taken, and the assailants entered the place. But the Syracusan band was outnumbered and surrounded, six hundred were killed, and the rest were driven down the cliffs. Of these Dionysius was one; he reached the bottom barely alive, after that precipitous descent.

In the course of the extension of his power on the northern coast, Dionysius had advanced to the limits of the Phoenician corner, and had won possession, through domestic treachery, of Solus, the most easterly of the three Phoenician cities. Of the circumstances we know nothing, but the conquest would seem to have been rather a piece of luck than part of any deliberate plan of aggression on the part of the Greek tyrant. No treaty appears to have been concluded between Carthage and Syracuse after the defeat of Himilco, so that the capture of Solus was not a violation of peace, but only an occasion for the reawakening of hostilities which had been permitted to sleep by tacit consent. At all events, it must have had something to do with the renewal of the war, — a renewal for which our records assign no causes.

At the opening of the second war we find a Carthaginian general commanding the Phoenician forces of the island, but without any troops, so far as we know, from Africa. The general was Mago, who in the previous war had been commander of the fleet. His army was doubtless considerably inferior to the forces which Dionysius could muster; certain it is that on this occasion Dionysius did not hesitate to give him battle and did not fail to defeat him. Carthage saw that she must make a more vigorous effort, and she gave Mago a large army — 80,000 men, it is said, — to retrieve his ill success. To meet the invader, Dionysius entered into a close league with the strongest Sicel power in the land, his fellow-tyrant Agyris of Agyrium. This is the special feature of the second Punic War : the cause of Europe is upheld by a federation of the two European powers of the island, Sicel and Greek. The Carthaginian army advanced into Sicel territory, seeking to win the Sicel towns. But Agyris and his men waged a most effectual manner of warfare, cutting off all the foraging parties of the enemy and thus starving them by degrees. This they were able to do from their knowledge of their native hills. But it seems that the Syracusans were dissatisfied with this slow method, which was thoroughly to the taste of Dionysius. What happened is not clear; but we learn that the Syracusans marched away from the camp, and that Dionysius replaced them by arming the slaves. Then the Greeks and the Sicels must have won some unrecorded success, or the Carthaginian host must have been already terribly deplenished by the want of food; for we next find Mago suing for peace.

This peace, although it is said to have been based on the treaty which Dionysius had made twelve years before, was in truth altogether different; for the parts of the two powers were reversed. All the Greek communities of Sicily were now placed under the direct or indirect power of Syracuse. The Carthaginian power was confined to the western corner. Nothing is said of Solus; it must have been now handed over to Carthage, if Mago had not already recovered it by arms. But the most striking provision of the treaty is that which placed “the Sicels” under the rule of Dionysius. Nothing is said of Agyrium, and we are almost driven to wonder whether there was here any treachery to Agyris, of whom we hear nothing further. But there was a special clause touching Tauromenium; and acting on this clause Dionysius immediately took possession of the town, expelled the Sicels, and established in the fortress one of those mercenary settlements which were characteristic of his age. Such was the end of the two Punic wars, which were in truth rather but a single war broken by an interval of quiescence.


Sect. 7. The Empire of Dionysius

Having made himself master of all Greek Sicily, the lord of Syracuse began to extend the compass of his ambition beyond the bounds of the island. He began to plan the conquest of Greek Italy. Hitherto the Sicilian cities, though they had constant dealings with the colonies of the Italian mainland, had never sought there, or anywhere out of their own island, a field for conquest or aggression. The restriction of Siceliot ambition to Sicilian territory was the other side of the doctrine preached by Hermocrates that the Siceliots should not allow Greeks from beyond the sea to interfere in the affairs of Sicily. We are reminded of the policy which has been followed on a greater scale by the United States on the American continent. Here, as in other things, Dionysius was an innovator; he set the example of enterprises of conquest beyond the sea. Into the enterprise of Italian conquest he was naturally led on by his dealings with the fellow-cities of the strait, Messana and Rhegium.

For Messana was a city once more; it had been rebuilt by Dionysius himself. He settled in it colonists from Locri and Medma in Italy, and 600 Messenians from old Greece, who had been wandering about homeless since Sparta had driven them from Naupactus. But this favour to the Messenians displeased the Spartans, and as Dionysius clave to the friendship of Sparta he yielded their protests. He removed the exiles from Messana, but he made for them a secure though less illustrious home. He founded the city of Tyndaris on a high hill to the west of Mylae, and fortified it strongly; the walls and towers, which still remain, are a good specimen of the fortifications of Dionysius.

The restoration of Messana and the foundation of Tyndaris were no pleasant sight to the Ionian city across the strait ; these new cities seemed to Rhegium a Syracusan menace. The men of Rhegium sought to make a counter-move by founding a city themselves between Tyndaris and Messana. They gathered together the exiles  from Catane and Naxos and settled them on the peninsula of Mylae; but the settlement lasted only for a moment; almost immediately the town of Mylae was captured by its neighbours of Messana, and the exiles were driven out to resume their wanderings.

Apart from his political hostility to Rhegium, Dionysius is said to have borne it a private grudge. He had asked the men of Rhegium to give him one of their maidens to wife, and they had answered that they would give him none but the hangman’s daughter. Locri, Rhegium’s neighbour, then granted him the request which Rhegium refused; Locri was his faithful ally; and now, when the conclusion of peace with Carthage left him free to pursue his Italian designs, it was Locri that he made his base of operations. The first object was to capture Rhegium; its position on the strait dictated this, apart from all motives of revenge or hatred. Accordingly starting from Locri with army and fleet, he laid siege to Rhegium by land and sea. But the confederate cities of the Italian coast came to the assistance of a member of their league; the Italiot armament worsted the fleet of Dionysius in or near the strait, and Dionysius escaped with difficulty to the opposite coast.

Rhegium was thus relieved, and Dionysius now directed his hostilities against the Italiot federation. He made an alliance with the Lucanians, to the intent that they and he should carry on war in common against the Italiot cities, they by land and he by sea. In accordance with this treaty, the Lucanians invaded the land of Thurii. The men of Thurii retorted by invading Lucania in considerable force; but they sustained a crushing defeat at the hands of the barbarians. Most of the Thurians were slain, but some escaped to the shore and swam out to ships which they descried coasting along. By a curious chance, the ships were the fleet of Syracuse, and Leptines, the tyrant’s brother, was once more the commander. He received the fugitives, and did more; he landed and ransomed them from the Lucanians. He did even more than this; he arranged an armistice between the Lucanians and the Italiots. In acting thus, he clearly went beyond his powers; he had been sent to co-operate with the Lucanians against the Italiots, and he had no right to conclude an armistice in such circumstances, without consulting his brother. It is not surprising that Dionysius deposed him from the command.

In the following year Dionysius took the field himself. He opened the campaign by laying siege to Caulonia, the northern neighbour of Locri. The Italiots, under the active lead of Croton, collected an army of 15,000 foot and 2000 horse, and entrusted the command to Heloris, a brave exile of Syracuse, who burned with hatred against the tyrant who had banished him. The federal army marched forth from Croton to relieve Caulonia, and when Dionysius learned of its approach, he decided to go forth to meet it; for his own forces, 20,000 foot and 3000 horse, were considerably superior. Luck favoured him. Near the river Elleporus which flows into the sea between Caulonia and Croton, the tyrant heard that the enemy were encamped within a distance of five miles, and he drew up his men in battle array. Heloris, less well-informed, rode forward in front of his main army, with a company of 500 men, and suddenly found himself in the presence of the Syracusan host. He did not quail or flee. Sending back a message to hasten the rest of his army, he and his little band stood firm against the onset of the invaders. Heloris fell himself, and the main army, coming up company by company, in haste and disorder, was easily routed by Dionysius. Ten thousand fugitives escaped to a high hill, but it was a poor hill of refuge, for there was no spring of water and they could not hold out. The next morning they besought Dionysius, who kept watch around the hill throughout the night, to set them free for a ransom. Dionysius refused; he would accept only unreserved surrender. But he was cruel only to grant them a greater mercy than they could themselves have dared to ask. When they came down the hill, Dionysius himself told their number with a wand as they filed past him, and each man deemed that his doom would be bondage if not death. But Dionysius let them all depart, without even exacting a ransom. This act of mercy, which was notable as compared not only with other acts of the tyrant, but with the ordinary practice of the age, produced a great sensation. There is no reason for imputing it to a magnanimous impulse; it was a deliberate act of policy. Dionysius did not wish to be generous, but he wished to be regarded as generous and win over the Italiot cities. For this purpose he made up his mind to sacrifice 10,000 ransoms. His wisdom was soon approved. The communities to which the captives belonged gratefully voted him golden crowns, and made separate treaties with him. In this way he accomplished his purpose; with Rhegium, Caulonia, and Hipponion he still remained at war, but these states were now isolated and the league was broken up. Rhegium bought off his hostilities for the time by surrendering its fleet. Caulonia was captured and abolished, and its territory given to Locri; Hipponion was likewise taken and destroyed; but the peoples of both these cities were transplanted to Syracuse and became Syracusan citizens.

But Dionysius had not yet finished with Rhegium. He created a pretext for renewing hostilities and he laid siege to the city. The men of Rhegium had now no friends to help them, but, under their general Phyton, whom the tyrant vainly endeavoured to bribe, they held out for ten months, and were reduced to surrender in the end by starvation. Dionysius accepted ransoms for those who could find the money; the rest of the inhabitants were sold. Phyton was selected for special vengeance. He was scourged through the army, and then drowned with all his kin. Thus Dionysius gained what hitherto had been one of his most pressing desires — possession of the city which had so long hated and defied him. He was now master of both sides of the strait, and held the fortress which was the bulwark of Greek Italy. Eight years later he captured Croton, and his power in Italy reached its greatest height.

But in the meanwhile the unresting lord of Syracuse had turned his eyes to a region of enterprise further afield. The needs of his treasury, if nothing else, bent his attention to commerce. We touch here upon that side of ancient enterprise which has been persistently and provokingly withdrawn from our vision, because the writers of antiquity never thought of lingering on the ordinary business transactions which were happening every day before their eyes. Many things that are now dark would be cleared up if we had more knowledge of the operations of Greek trade. Dionysius saw an opening for Sicilian commerce along the eastern and western coasts of the Hadriatic sea, in whose waters the ships of Corcyra, Athens, and Taras hitherto had chiefly plied. He set about making the Hadriatic a Syracusan lake, by means of settlements and alliances. He founded settlements in Apulia, which he probably hoped ultimately to incorporate in his dominion. He settled a colony and fixed a naval station in the island of Issa, whose importance as a strategic post has been more than once illustrated in subsequent history. He took part with the Parians in colonising Pharos, on an island not far from Issa. A Syracusan colony was planted at Ancon, and, even if the colonists were, as they are said to have been, exiles and foes of Dionysius, we may be sure that the merchant ships of Syracuse were welcome at the wharfs of Ancon. The northern goal of these merchant ships was near the mouth of the Po, at a spot where there was already a mart for diffusing Greek merchandise in Cis-Alpine Gaul, and beyond the Alps into northern Europe. This was the Venetian Hadria, city of marshes and canals, which was now colonised by Dionysius, to be in some sort—as has been aptly observed—a forerunner of Venice itself. It was in one of these outlying posts of the Hellenic world that the historian, to whom we owe our best knowledge of the Sicilian history of this time, probably wrote his works. Philistus had held posts of high trust under Dionysius, and had even been the commandant of the Syracusan citadel; but in later years he incurred his master’s displeasure or suspicion, and chose as his place of banishment some city on the Hadriatic, possibly Hadria. In connexion with these Hadriatic designs, touching which we have only the most fragmentary records, Dionysius formed an alliance with Alcetas of Molossia, whose unstable position in his own kingdom made him willing to be a dependent on the strong ruler of Syracuse. Thus Dionysius made his influence predominant at the gates of the Hadriatic.

The Syracusan empire—we may survey it, when it reached its widest extent—consisted, like most other empires, partly of immediate dominion and partly of dependent communities. The immediate dominion was both insular and continental; it included the greater portion of Sicily and the southern peninsula of Italy, perhaps as far north as the river Crathis. But this dominion was not homogeneous, in the relations of its various parts to the government at Syracuse. There was first of all the old territory of the Syracusan republic. There were secondly, a number of military settlements; an institution of Dionysius which has been compared to the military colonies of Rome. Such, for example, was Croton on the mainland; such in Sicily were Henna and Messana; such was Issa in the Hadriatic. Outside these direct subjects was the third class of the allied cities, which, though absolutely subject to the power of Dionysius, had still the management of their less important affairs in their own hands. To this class belonged the old Greek cities of Sicily —like Gela and Camarina; new colonies, like Tyndaris; some Sicel states like Agyrium and Herbita.

Beyond the sphere of direct dominion stretched the sphere of dependencies—the allies, whose bond of dependence was rather implied than formally expressed. Here belonged the cities of the Italiot league, Thurii and the rest, north of the Crathis river; here belonged some of the Iapygian communities in the heel of Italy; and here the kingdom of Molossia beyond the Ionian sea, and some Illyrian places on the Hadriatic coast. The Crathis may be regarded as the line between the two, the outer and the inner, divisions of the empire of Dionysius. But it is remarkable that at one time he planned a wall and ditch, which should run across the isthmus from Scylletion to the nearest point on the other sea—a distance of about twenty miles—and thus sever, as it were, the toe of Italy from the mainland and make it a sort of second Sicily.

The acquisition and maintenance of this empire, the building of ships and ship-sheds, the payment of mercenary soldiers, the vast fortifications of Syracuse, both of the island and of the hill — all this, along with the ordinary expenses of government and the state of a despot’s court, demanded an enormous outlay. To meet this outlay Dionysius was forced to resort to extraordinary expedients. In the first place, he oppressed the Syracusans by a burdensome taxation. He imposed special taxes for war, special taxes for building ships; and he introduced an onerous tax on cattle. It is said that the citizens paid yearly into the treasury at the rate of twenty per cent of their capital. In the second place, he had recourse to various expedients affecting the coinage. Thus he issued debased four-drachm pieces of tin instead of silver; and in one case of financial need he paid a debt by placing on each coin an official mark which rendered it worth the double of its true value. But such expedients were not enough. Dionysius was an unscrupulous rider of temples. Thus, when he took Croton, he carried off the treasures of a temple of Hera. In an earlier year he sailed like a pirate to Etruria, swooped down on a rich temple at the port of Agylla, and bore off booty which amounted to the value of 1500 talents. The plunder of a sanctuary on distant barbarian shores might seem a small thing, but no awe of divine displeasure restrained Dionysius from planning a raid upon the holiest place of Hellenic worship. He formed the design of robbing the treasury of Delphi itself, with Illyrian and Molossian help; but the plan miscarried. It is little wonder that the tyrant had an evil repute in the mother-country.


Sect. 8. Death of Dionysius. Estimate of his Work

It was only for a moment that the dominion of the Syracusan despot reached its extreme limits. He had hardly won the city and lands of Croton, when his borders fell back in the west of his own island. A new war with Carthage had broken out, and this time if Dionysius was not the first to draw the sword, he at least provoked hostilities. He entered into alliances with some of the cities dependent on Carthage—possibly Segesta or Eryx. Of the campaigns we know almost nothing, except their result. First we find Carthage helping the Italiots with whom the tyrant was at war. Next we find a Carthaginian force in Sicily commanded by Mago. In a battle fought at Cabala—a place unknown—the Syracusans won a great victory and Mago was killed. While negotiations for peace were proceeding, another battle was fought at Cronion near Panormus, and fate reversed her award. Dionysius was defeated with terrible loss, and compelled to make a disadvantageous peace. The boundary of Greek against Punic Sicily was withdrawn from the river Mazarus to the river Halycus. This meant that the deliverer of Selinus and Thermae gave back those cities to the mercies of the barbarian. At the mouth of the Halycus, the old Greek foundation of Heraclea Minoa now became, under the corresponding Punic name Ras Melkart, one of the chief strongholds of Punic power.

Just ten years later, ten years in which the history of Sicily is a blank, Dionysius essayed to retrieve the losses which the disastrous battle of Cronion had brought upon him. He made war once more upon Carthage, and for the second time he invaded Punic Sicily. He delivered Greek Selinus; he won Campanian Entella; and captured Elymian Eryx along with its haven Drepanon. He then attempted, we may almost say, to repeat the great exploit of his first war. There was no more a Motya to capture, but he laid siege to Lilybaeum, which had taken Motya’s place. But he was compelled to abandon the attempt; the fortress was too strong; and his ill-success was soon crowned by the loss of a large part of his fleet, which was carried out of the harbour of Drepanon by an enterprising Carthaginian admiral.

It was the last undertaking of the great “ruler of Sicily.” He did not live to conclude the peace which probably confirmed the Halycus as the boundary between Greek and barbarian. His death was connected with a side of his character which has not yet come before us. The tyrant of Syracuse has a place, though it is a small place, in literary history. He was a dramatic poet, and he frequently competed with his tragedies in the Athenian theatre. He won third, he won even second, prizes; but his dearest ambition was to be awarded a first place. That desire was at length fulfilled; his failure at Lilybaeum and the loss of his ships at Drepanon were compensated by the tidings that the first prize had been assigned to his Ransom of Hector at the Lenaean festival. He celebrated his joy by an unwonted carouse; his intemperance was followed by a fever; and a soporific draught was administered to him which induced the sleep of death.

Dionysius did not stand wholly aloof from the politics of elder Greece. His alliance with Sparta, and the help which he received from her at the siege of Syracuse, involved him in obligations to her which he fulfilled on more than one occasion; and in the regions of Corcyra his empire came into direct contact with the spheres of some of the states of the mother-country. But these political relations are an unimportant part of his reign. His reign, as a whole, lies apart from the contemporary politics of elder Greece. Yet, from some points of view, it possesses more significance in Grecian, and in European, history than the contemporary history of Sparta and Athens.

In the first place, Dionysius stands out as one of the most prominent champions of Europe in the long struggle between the Asiatic and the European for the possession of Sicily. He did what no champion had done before; he carried the war into the enemy’s precinct. He well-nigh achieved what it was reserved for an Italian commonwealth to achieve actually, the reclaiming of the whole island for Europe, the complete expulsion of the Semitic intruder. In the second place, he stands out as the man who raised his own city not only to dominion over all Greek Sicily but to a transmarine dominion, which made her the most powerful city in the Greek world, the most potent state in Europe. The purely Sicilian policy is flung aside, and Syracuse becomes a continental power, laying one hand on that peninsula to which her own island geographically belongs, and stretching out the other to the lands beyond the Hadriatic. And, thirdly, this empire, though it is thinly disguised like the later empire of Rome under constitutional forms, is really a monarchical realm, which is a foreshadowing of the Macedonian monarchies and an anticipation of a new period in European history. Again in the art of war Dionysius inaugurated methods which did not come into general use till more than half a century later; some of his military operations seem to transport us to the age of Alexander the Great and his successors. In another way too Dionysius anticipated the age of those monarchs; statues were set up representing him in the guise of Dionysus, the god by whose name he was called. Here indeed he did not stand alone among his contemporaries; the Spartan Lysander also had been invested with attributes of divinity.

But in one respect Dionysius was far from being a forerunner of the Macedonian monarchs: he was not an active or deliberate diffuser of Hellenic civilisation. On the contrary he appears rather as an undoer of Hellenic civilisation. He destroys Hellenic towns, and he replaces Hellenic by Italian communities; he cultivates the friendship of Gauls and Lucanians, to use them against Greeks, not to make them Greeks. This side of the policy of Dionysius, the establishment of Italian settlements in Sicily, points in a different direction; it points—unintentionally, indeed, so far as he was concerned—to the expansion of Italy, it points to the Italian conquest of Sicily which was to be accomplished more than a century after his death.

Dionysius then has the significance of a pioneer. But there is something else to be said. Original and successful as he was, great things as he did, we cannot help feeling that he ought to have done greater things still. A master of political wisdom, an originator of daring ideas, a man of endless energy, remarkably temperate in the habits of his life, he was hampered throughout by his unconstitutional position. The nature of tyranny imposed limitations on his work. He had always to consider first the security of his own unchartered rule; he could never forget the fact that he was a hated master. He could therefore never devote himself to the accomplishment of any object or the solution of any problem with the undivided zeal which may animate a constitutional prince who need never turn aside to examine the sure foundations of his power. We saw how the tyrant’s warfare against Carthage was affected by these personal calculations. The Syracusan tyranny accomplished indeed far more than could have been accomplished by the Syracusan democracy; Dionysius as a tyrant wrought what he could never have wrought as a mere statesman governing by legitimate influence the counsels of a free assembly. But he illustrates — and all the more strikingly, as the pioneer of the great monarchies of the future — the truth to which attention has been called before, that the tyrannies and democracies of Greek cities were in their nature not adapted to create and maintain large empires.


Sect. 9. Dionysius the Younger

The empire of Dionysius, which he had made fast, to use his own expression, “by chains of adamant” — a strong army, a strong navy, and strong walls—descended to his son, Dionysius, a youth of feeble character, not without amiable qualities, but of the nature that is easily swayed to good or evil and is always dependent on advisers. At first he was under the influence of Dion, who had been the most trusted minister of the elder Dionysius in the latter part of his reign, holding the office of admiral, and allied by a double marriage with the tyrant’s family. The tyrant had espoused Dion’s sister Aristomache; and Dion married one of the daughters of this marriage, Arete, his own niece. The other daughter was given to Dionysius, her half-brother. Another man, possessing the pride, wealth, and ability of Dion, might have sought to fling aside Dionysius, and if he did not seize the tyranny himself, at all events to secure it for the sons of his sister, the brothers of his wife, Hipparinus and Nysaeus. But Dion was not like other men; his aspirations were loftier and less selfish. His object was not to secure tyranny for any man, but to get rid of tyranny altogether. But this was not to be done by a revolution; the democracy which would have risen on the ruins of the despotism would have been in Dion’s eyes as evil a thing for Syracuse as the despotism itself. For Dion had imbibed, and thoroughly believed in, the political teaching of his friend, Plato the philosopher. His darling project was to establish at Syracuse a constitution which would so far as possible conform to the theoretical views of Plato, and which would probably have taken the shape of a limited kingship, with some resemblance to the constitution of Sparta. And this could never have been brought about by a pure vote of the Syracusan people; the ideal constitution must be imposed upon them for their own good. The sole chance lay in persuading a tyrant to impose limitations on his own absolute power and introduce the required constitution. “Give me,” says Plato himself, “a city governed by a tyranny, and let the tyrant be young, with good brains, brave, and generous, and let fortune bring in his way a good lawgiver”—then a state has a chance of being well governed. Dion saw in young Dionysius a nature which might be moulded as he wished,—a nature, perhaps, which he missed in his own nephews, Hipparinus and Nysaeus. He devoted himself loyally to Dionysius, who looked up to his virtue and experience, and he set himself to interest the young ruler in philosophy and make him take a serious view of his duties. But his chief hope lay in bringing the tyrant under the attraction of the same powerful personality which had exercised a decisive and abiding influence over himself. Plato must come to Syracuse and make the tyrant a philosopher. The treatment which Plato had experienced on the occasion of a previous visit to Sicily, at the hands of the elder Dionysius, was not indeed such as to encourage him to return. But he yielded, reluctantly, to the pressing invitation of the young ruler and the urgent solicitations of Dion, who represented that now at last the moment had come to to call an ideal state into actual existence.

It was the vision of a “dreamer dreaming greatly”; and that a statesman of Dion’s practical experience and knowledge of human nature should have allowed himself to be guided by such a dream may seem strange to us; to us to whom the history of hundreds of societies throughout a period of more than two thousand years has brought disillusion. It has indeed seemed so curious that some have concluded that Dion was throughout plotting to dethrone Dionysius, that the philosophical scheme was part of the plot, and Plato an unconscious tool of the conspiracy. But the good faith of Dion seems assured. We must remember that a state founded on philosophical principles was a new idea, which was not at all likely to seem foredoomed to failure to any one who was enamoured of philosophy; for such a state had never been tried, and consequently there was no example of a previous failure. On the contrary, there was the example of Sparta as a success. The political speculators of those days always turned with special predilection to Sparta, as a well-balanced state, and it was believed that her constitution and discipline had been called into being and established for all time by the will and fiat of a single extraordinarily wise lawgiver. Why then should not Dionysius and Dion, under the direction of Plato, do for Syracuse what Lycurgus had done for Lacedaemon? And Dion doubtless thought that his own experience would enable him to adjust the demands of speculation to the rude realities of existence.

No welcome could have been more honourable and flattering than that which Plato received. He engaged the respect and admiration of Dionysius, and the young tyrant was easily brought to regard tyranny as a vile thing and to cherish the plan of building up a new constitution. The experiment would probably have been tried, if Plato, in dealing with his pupil, had acted otherwise than he did. The nature of Dionysius was one of those natures which are susceptible of impressions and capable of enthusiasm, but incapable of persevering application. If Plato had contented himself with inculcating the general principles which he has expounded with such charm in his Republic, Dionysius would in all likelihood have attempted to create at Syracuse a dim adumbration of the ideal state. It is hardly likely that it would have been long maintained: still, it would at least have been essayed. But Plato insisted on imparting to his pupil a systematic course of philosophical training, and began with the science of geometry. The tyrant took up the study with eagerness; his court was absorbed in geometry; but he presently wearied of it. And then influences which were opposed to the scheme of Dion and Plato began to tell.

One of the first acts of the new reign had been to recall from exile the historian Philistus. He was entirely adverse to the proposed reforms, and wished that the tyranny should continue on its old lines. He and his friends insinuated that the true object of Dion was to secure the tyranny for one of his own nephews, as soon as Dionysius had laid it down. They did everything to turn Dionysius against Dion, and at last an indiscreet letter of Dion gave them the means of success. Syracuse and Carthage were negotiating peace, and Dion wrote to the Carthaginian Judges not to act without first consulting him. The letter was intercepted, and though its motive was doubtless perfectly honest, it was interpreted as treason. Dion was banished from Sicily, but was allowed to retain his property; and the party of Philistus won the upper hand. Plato remained for a while in the island; Dionysius was jealous of the esteem which he felt for Dion, and desired above all things to win the same esteem for himself. But the philosopher’s visit had been a failure; he yearned to get back to Athens, and at length Dionysius let him go.

So ended the notable scheme of founding an ideal state, the realisation of which would have involved the disbandment of the mercenary troops and thereby the collapse of the Syracusan empire. It is easy to ridicule Plato for want of tact in his treatment of the young tyrant; it is easy to flout him as a pedant for not distinguishing between an Academy and a Court. But Plato was perfectly right. The only motive which had brought him to Sicily was to prepare the way for founding a state fashioned more or less according to his own ideal. Now the first condition of the life of such a state was that a king should be a philosopher. Therefore, as Dionysius—not Plato—was to be king in the new state, it was indispensable that Dionysius should become a philosopher. Plato had not the smallest interest in imparting to the tyrant a superficial smattering of philosophy, enough to beguile him into framing a Platonic state. For that state would have been still-born, since it lacked the first condition of life, a true philosopher at its head. If Dionysius had not the stuff of a true, but only of a sham, philosopher, it was useless to make the experiment. Plato adopted the only reasonable course; he was true to his own ideal.


Sect. 10. Dion

Strange as it may appear, after such experiences, Plato seems to have returned once more to Sicily, at the urgent invitation of Dionysius. He can have had no more expectations of making a philosopher out of the tyrant, and his chief motive must have been to bring about the recall of Dion and reconcile him to Dionysius, who appears to have lured the philosopher by the hope that this might be accomplished. Plato was received and entertained with as great honour as before, but his visit was fruitless. Probably the tyrant ascertained that Dion was in the meantime using his wealth to make silent preparations for winning his way back to Syracuse and overthrowing the tyranny. Dionysius therefore took the precaution of confiscating Dion’s property; and then Plato returned to Athens as soon as he could. Dion also betook himself to Greece and made Athens his headquarters. Presently the tyrant committed a needless act of tyranny; he compelled Dion’s wife Arete to marry another man. At length Dion deemed that the time for action had come. With a very small force, packed into not more than five merchant ships, he set sail from Zacynthus, to encounter the mighty armaments of Dionysius. His coming was expected, and the admiral Philistus had a fleet in Italian waters to waylay him. But Dion sailed straight across the open sea to Pachynus. His plan was to land in Western Sicily, collect what reinforcements he could, and march on Syracuse. It was a bold enterprise, but Dion knew that the character of the tyrant was feeble, and that the Syracusans pined to be delivered from his tyranny. Driven by a storm to the Libyan coast, the ships of the deliverer finally reached Heraclea Minoa, now a Carthaginian port, in south-western Sicily. Here they learned that Dionysius had departed for Italy with eighty ships, and they lost no time in marching to Syracuse, picking up reinforcements, both Greek and Sicel, on their way. The Campanian mercenaries who were guarding Epipolae were lured away by a trick; and, making a night march from Acrae, Dion and his party entered Syracuse amid general rejoicings. The Assembly placed the government in the hands of twenty generals, Dion among them. The fortress of Epipolae was secured; no part of Syracuse remained in possession of Dionysius except the Island, and against this Dion built a wall of defence from the Greater to the Lesser Harbour. Seven days later Dionysius returned.

While Syracuse was rocking with the first enthusiasm at her deliverance, the deliverer was the popular hero. But Dion was not a man who could hold the affections of the people, for he repelled men by his exceeding haughtiness. And it was seen too that he was determined masterfully to direct the Syracusans how they were to use their freedom. Dionysius, shut up in the Island, resorted to artifices to raise suspicion against him in the minds of the citizens. And a rival appeared on the scene who possessed more popular manners than Dion. This was a certain Heraclides, whom the tyrant had banished, and who now returned with an armament of ships and soldiers. The Assembly elected him admiral. Dion undid this act on the ground that his own consent was necessary and then came forward himself to propose Heraclides. This behaviour alienated the sympathies of the citizens; they did not want another autocrat. Soon afterwards Heraclides won an important sea-fight, defeating Philistus, who had returned from Italy with his squadron. The old historian himself was taken and put to death with cruelty. Dionysius thus lost his best support, and presently he escaped from the Island, taking his triremes with him, but leaving a garrison of mercenaries and his young son Apollocrates in command.

Soon after this the influence of Dion waned so much that the Syracusans deposed him from the post of general, and appointed twenty-five new generals, among them Heraclides. They also refused to grant any pay to the Peloponnesian deliverers who had come with Dion. The Peloponnesians would have gladly turned against the Syracusans if Dion had given the signal; but Dion, though self-willed, was too genuine a patriot to attack his own city, and he retired to Leontini with 3000 devoted men.

The Syracusans then went on with the siege of the island fortress, and so hard pressed was the garrison that it determined to surrender. Heralds had been already sent to announce the decision to the Syracusans, when in the early morning reinforcements arrived —soldiers and provisions, brought by a Campanian of Naples, by name Nypsius, who, eluding the notice of the enemy’s ships, sailed into the Great Harbour. The situation was changed, and negotiations were immediately broken off. At first fortune favoured the Syracusans. Heraclides put out to sea, and won a second sea-fight, sinking or capturing whatever warships had been left behind by Dionysius or were brought by Nypsius. At this success the city went wild with joy and spent the night in carousing. Before the dawn of day, when soldiers and generals were alike sunk in a drunken sleep, Nypsius and his troops issued from the gates of the island, and surmounting the cross wall of Dion by scaling-ladders, slew the guards and took possession of Lower Achradina and the Agora. All this part of the city was sacked; full leave was given to the mercenaries to do as they listed; they carried off women and children and all the property they could lay hands on. Next day all the citizens who had taken refuge in Epipolae and the Upper Achradina, looking helplessly at what had been done, and seeing that the barbarians were beginning their horrible work again, voted to call Dion to the rescue. Messengers riding as swiftly as they could reached Leontini towards evening. Dion led them to the theatre, and there before the gathered folk the envoys told their tale and implored Dion and the Peloponnesians to forget the ingratitude of Syracuse and come to her help. Dion made a moving speech; he would in any case go, and, if he could not save his city, he would bury himself in her ruins; but the Peloponnesians might well refuse to stir for a people which had entreated them so ill. A shout went up that Syracuse must be rescued; and for the second time Dion led the Peloponnesians to her deliverance. They set out at once, and a night march brought them to Megara, five or six miles from Syracuse, at the dawn of day. There dreadful tidings reached them. Nypsius, knowing that the rescue was on its way and deeming that no time was to be lost, had let loose his barbarians again into the city at midnight. They no longer thought of plunder, but only of slaying and burning. At this news the army of rescue hurried on to save what might still be saved. Entering by the Hexapylon on the north, Dion cleared his way before him through Achiadina, and reached the cross -wall which he had himself built as a defence against the Island. It was now broken down, but behind its ruins Nypsius had posted a body of his mercenaries, and this was the scene of the decisive struggle. Dion’s men carried the wall, and the foe was driven back into the fortress of Ortygia.

The opponents of Dion, who had not fled, were humbled. Heraclides besought his pardon, and Dion was blamed for not putting him to death. It was at all events foolish magnanimity which consented to the arrangement that Dion should be general with full power on land, and Heraclides by sea. The old dissensions soon broke out, and presently we find a Spartan named Gaesylus reconciling the rivals and constraining Heraclides to swear solemnly to do nothing against Dion.

Nypsius seems to have disappeared from the scene, and it was not long before the son of Dionysius, weary of the long siege, made up his mind to surrender the Island to Dion. During all these dreadful events Dion’s sister Aristomache and his wife Arete had been kept in the Island. Dion now took back his wife.

The time at last came for Dion to show what his political aims really were. He professed to have come to give Syracuse freedom; but the freedom which he would have given her was not such as she herself desired. The Syracusan citizens wanted the restoration of their democracy; but to Dion democracy seemed as bad a form of government as tyranny. If, taught by experience, he no longer a modified dreamed of a Platonic state, he desired to establish an aristocracy, with some democratic limitations, and with a king, or kings, as in Sparta. With this purpose in view he sent to Corinth for helpers and advisers; and he expressed his leanings to the Corinthian oligarchy by an issue of coins, with a flying horse, modelled on the Pegasi of Corinth. But though Dion hoped to establish a state in which the few should govern the many, he made a grave mistake in not immediately placing himself above the suspicion of being a selfish power-seeker—a possible tyrant. The Syracusans longed to see the fortress of the tyrant demolished, and if Dion had complied with their wish he might have secured for himself abiding influence. But though he did not live in the fortress he allowed it to remain, and its existence seemed a standing invitation to tyranny. Dion had no intention of allowing the Syracusans to manage their own affairs, and the enjoyment of power corrupted him. His authority was only limited by the joint command of Heraclides, and at last he was brought to consent that his rival should be secretly assassinated. After this he was to all purposes tyrant, though he might repudiate tyranny with his lips.

Among those who had come with him from elder Greece to liberate Syracuse was a pupil of Plato named Callippus; and this man plotted to overthrow Dion, who trusted him implicitly. Aristomache and Arete suspected him and taxed him with treachery; nor were they assured until he had taken the most solemn oath that a mortal could take. He went to the precinct of the great goddesses Demeter and Persephone; the priest wrapped him in the purple robe of the queen of the underworld and gave him a lighted torch; in this guise he swore that he plotted no evil design against Dion. But so little regard had Callippus for religion that he chose the festival of the Maiden by whom he had sworn for the execution of his plot. He employed some men of Zacynthus to murder Dion, and then seized the power himself.

The tyranny of Callippus lasted for about a year. Then, while he was engaged in an attack on Catane, the two sons of the elder Dionysius by his second wife, Hipparinus and Nysaeus, came to Syracuse and won possession of Ortygia. These brothers were a worthless pair, drunken and dissolute. Hipparinus held the island for about two years; then he was murdered in a fit of drunkenness, and was succeeded by Nysaeus, who ruled Ortygia five years longer. It is not certain how far these tyrants were able to assert their authority over Syracuse outside the precincts of the Island.

During all these changes Dionysius was living at Locri, the native city of his mother, and ruling it with a tyrant’s rod. His cruelty and the outrages which he committed on the freeborn maidens of the city provoked universal hatred. At length he saw the chance of recovering Syracuse. Leaving his wife and daughters at Locri with a small garrison, he sailed to Ortygia and drove out Nysaeus. As soon as he had gone the Locrians arose and easily overcame his mercenaries. The enormities of which the tyrant had been guilty may best be measured by the brutal thirst of vengeance which now consumed the citizens of Locri. No supplications, no intervention, no offers of ransom could turn them away from wreaking their pent-up hatred on the wife and daughters of Dionysius. The women were submitted to the most horrible tortures and insults before they were strangled; the sea was sown with their ashes.


Sect. 11. Timoleon

At this moment tyrannies flourished in Sicily. Besides Syracuse, the cities of Messana, Leontini, and Catane, and many Sicel towns were under the yoke of tyrants. Syracuse was at least half free; Dionysius held only the Island. But the Syracusans, for lack of another leader, looked for help and guidance, in their struggle against their own tyrant, to the man who had made himself lord of Leontini. This was a certain Hiketas, a man ill to deal with, who was a follower of Dion, but after Dion’s death caused his wife and sister to be drowned while they were sailing to the Peloponnesus. This Hiketas was aiming at becoming himself lord of Syracuse, and he hoped to accomplish his purpose with the help of Carthage. But he veiled his designs, and he supported an appeal which the Sicilian Greeks now addressed to Corinth. It was an appeal for help both against the plague of tyranny which was rampant in Sicily and against the Carthaginians, who were preparing a great armament to descend upon the troubled island. The Syracusans selected Hiketas as their general.

Corinth, ever a solicitous mother to her colonies, was ready to respond to the appeal; and the only difficulty was to find a suitable response. Some one in the assembly, by a sudden inspiration, arose and named Timoleon, the son of Timodemus. Belonging to a noble family, and notable by his personal qualities, Timoleon was living under a strange cloud, through a deed which some highly praised and others severely blamed. He had saved his brother’s life in battle at the risk of his own; but, when that brother afterwards plotted to make himself tyrant, Timoleon and some friends put him to death. His mother and many others abhorred him as guilty of a brother’s blood; while others admired him as the slayer of a tyrant. In the light of his later deeds, we know that Timoleon was actuated by the highest motives of duty when he consented to his brother’s death. Ever since that terrible day he had lived in retirement, but when his name was mentioned in the Assembly all approved, and Teleclides, a man of influence, expressed the general thought by saying, “We shall decide that he slew a tyrant, if he is successful; that he slew his brother, if he fails.” The enterprise was to be Timoleon’s ordeal.

With ten ships of war, a few fellow-citizens, and about 1000 mercenaries, Timoleon crossed the Ionian sea, guided, it was said, by the track of a flaming torch, the emblem of the Sicilian goddesses Demeter and Persephone. At Rhegium, now free from the rule of tyrants, he met with a warm welcome. But he found a Carthaginian fleet awaiting him there, and likewise ambassadors from Hiketas, who demanded that the ships and soldiers should be sent back to Corinth, since the Carthaginians would not permit them to cruise in Sicilian waters. As for Timoleon himself, Hiketas would be pleased to have his help and counsel. Timoleon had no thought of heeding such a message. It was not to set up the rule of Hiketas at Syracuse that he had come, or to submit to the dictation of the foes of Hellas. But the difficulty was to leave the roadstead of Rhegium in face of the Punic fleet. Here Timoleon showed caution and craft. He pretended to agree to the proposals, but he asked that the whole matter and the intentions of Hiketas should be clearly stated in the presence of the Rhegine people. With the connivance of the Rhegines, time was wasted, and the Carthaginians and the ambassadors of Hiketas were detained in the Assembly, until the Corinthian ships had put out to sea, Timoleon himself slipping away just in time to embark in the last of them. He made straight for Tauromenium.

It will be remembered that Tauromenium, planted by Himilco to be a Sicel city, had been taken by Dionysius to be an abode for his mercenaries. Amid the troubles after the tyrant’s death it had gained its independence, and a citizen named Andromachus had become the foremost man in its public affairs. Andromachus induced his fellow-citizens to offer a home to the homeless Naxians whose parents Dionysius had so cruelly dispossessed. The Naxians came back to the hill which looked down on the place of their old city; Naxos revived in Tauromenium. And the Naxians were the first Sicilians to welcome the deliverer of Sicily to her shores. Timoleon’s first success was at Hadranum, the Sicel town where the great Sicilian fire-god Hadranus had his chief abode. The men of Hadranum were at discord among themselves; some would summon Hiketas, others invited Timoleon; and both Hiketas and Timoleon came. It was a race between them to get to Hadranum first. Timoleon, the later to arrive, surprised the enemy as they were resting outside the town, and defeated them, although in numbers they were five to one. The gates of the city were then thrown open and Hadranum became the headquarters of Timoleon’s army. Soon afterwards Hiketas suborned two men to assassinate the Corinthian leader, but the plot was frustrated at the last moment; and henceforth the belief gained ground that Timoleon was hedged about by some divine protection. The fire-god of Hadranum too had shown by miraculous signs that he approved of the stranger’s enterprise. Other cities now allied themselves with Timoleon; and presently Dionysius sent a message to him, proposing to surrender the Island, and asking only to be allowed to retire in safety to Corinth, with his private property. The offer was at once accepted; the fortress, and the mercenaries who guarded it, and all the war gear were transferred to Timoleon. Dionysius lived the rest of his life at Corinth in harmless obscurity. Many anecdotes were told of the trivial doings of the fallen lord of Sicily and his smart sayings. When some one contrasted his fortune with that of his father, he remarked, “My father came into power when democracy was hated, but I when tyranny was envied.”

Having won Ortygia sooner and more easily than could have been hoped, it remained for Timoleon to liberate the rest of Syracuse, which was in the hands of Hiketas. But Hiketas had powerful allies. A hundred and fifty Carthaginian ships, under the command of Mago, sailed into the Great Harbour, and a Carthaginian force was admitted into Syracuse. The Corinthian commander in the Island—Timoleon himself still abode at Hadranum—was hard pressed; but presently Mago and Hiketas went off to besiege Catane, and Neon making a successful sally occupied Achradina. At the same time reinforcements from Corinth, which had been for some time delayed in Italy by the Carthaginian fleet, arrived in Sicily. It was now time for Timoleon himself to appear at Syracuse. He pitched his camp on the south side, on the banks of the Anapus. Then another piece of luck befell him. The Greek mercenaries, both his own and those of Hiketas, used to amuse their idle hours by fishing for eels at the mouth of the river; and as they had no cause of quarrel, though they were ready to kill each other for pay, they used to converse amicably on such occasions. One of Timoleon’s soldiers observed that the Greeks ought to combine against the barbarians, and the words coming to the ears of Mago caused him to conceive suspicions of Hiketas; he suddenly sailed off with all his fleet; but when he reached Carthage he slew himself and his countrymen crucified his corpse. This story, however, can hardly be the whole explanation of Mago’s strange behaviour.

Thus freed from his most formidable foe, Timoleon soon drove Hiketas from Epipolae, and Syracuse was at length completely free. The Syracusans had found a deliverer who did not, like Dion, seek to be their master; and the fortress of Dionysius was pulled down. This act of demolition seemed the seal and assurance of their deliverance. But the city was dispeopled and desolate, grass grew in the market -place; and the first task of the deliverer was to repopulate it with new citizens. The Corinthians made proclamations at the festivals of elder Greece, inviting emigrants to resettle Syracuse; men whom the tyrants had banished flocked back; and 60,000 men in all gathered both from west and east, with women and children, and restored the strength of the city. The laws of Diocles were issued anew, and the democratic constitution was revived and in some respects remodelled. The most important innovation was the investing of the amphipolos or priest of Olympian Zeus with the chief magistracy. The priest was annually elected and gave his name to the year; but, as he was chosen by lot out of three clans, his promotion to be the first magistrate of the republic was a limitation of the democracy. Such was the renovation of Syracuse; and her new freedom was expressed, on some coins which were now issued, by the symbol of an unbridled steed.

Timoleon then went on to do for other towns in Sicily what he had done for Syracuse. Many tyrants submitted; even Hiketas, who had withdrawn to Leontini. There was also work to be done against the Carthaginians, who were intent upon recovering lost ground and were preparing for another great effort to drive the Greeks out of Sicily. Five years after Timoleon had landed in the island, a large armament sailed from Carthage and put in at Lilybaeum. It consisted of 200 galleys find 1000 transports; there were 10,000 horses—some for war chariots; and the total number of the infantry was said to be 70,000. The flower of the host was the “Sacred Band” of 2500 Carthaginian citizens, men of birth and wealth. Hamilcar and Hasdrubal, the commanders, decided to march right across Sicily against Syracuse. But Timoleon did not await them there; he would try to encounter them west of the Halycus, in Punic not in Grecian territory. Collecting such an army as he could—it amounted to no more than 10,000—he set out. On the march he was deserted by 1000 mercenaries who clamoured for arrears of pay and murmured at being led against such overwhelming odds  and with difficulty could he persuade the rest to go on. The Carthaginians were encamped on the west bank of the Crimisus, a branch of the river Hypsas, not that which washes Acragas, but that which flows through the territory of Selinus. The city of Entella, now held by Campanians, was situated on the Crimisus, and it may be that the Punic army had halted with the hope of taking it.

The field of the battle which was now fought between the Greeks and Phoenicians on the banks of the Crimisu is unknown. In the the morning the Greeks ascended a hill which divided them from the river, and on their way they met mules laden with wild celery, a herb which was used to wreathe sepulchral slabs. The soldiers were depressed by an incident which seemed ominous of evil; but of the same herb were wrought the crowns of victors in the Isthmian games, and Timoleon hastened to interpret the chance as an augury of victory. He wreathed his head with the celery, and the whole host followed his example. Then two eagles appeared in the sky, one bearing a serpent—another fortunate omen. The Greeks halted on the hilltop, striving to pierce the mist which enveloped the ground below them; and when it melted away they saw the enemy crossing the stream. The war-chariots crossed first, and behind came the Sacred Band. Timoleon saw that his chance lay in attacking before the whole army had crossed. He sent down his cavalry to lead the attack and himself followed with the foot. The war-chariots prevented the horses from approaching the Sacred Band; so Timoleon ordered the cavalry to move aside and assail the flank of the foe, leaving the way clear for the infantry. It is not recorded how the infantry swept away the war-chariots, but they succeeded in reaching the Sacred Band. The Carthaginians, firm and immovable, withstood the onset of the spears; and the Greeks, finding that all their thrusting could not drive back or pierce the shield wall, flung down their spears and drew their swords. In the sword fight it was no longer a matter of weight and courage; skill and lithesome movements told; and the Greeks, superior in these qualities, utterly smote the Sacred Band. Meanwhile the rest of the Punic army had crossed the river, and although the flower of it was destroyed, there were still enormous numbers to deal with. But fortune followed Timoleon. Clouds had gathered and were hanging over the hills, and suddenly there burst forth a tempest of lightning and wind-driven rain and hail. The Greeks had their backs to the wind; the rain and hail drove into the faces of the enemy, who in the noise could not hear the commands of their officers. When the ground became muddy, the lighter armour of the Greeks gave them a great advantage over their foes, who floundered about, weighed down by their heavy mail. At length the Carthaginians could no longer stand their ground, and when they turned to fly they found death in the Crimisus. Rapidly swollen by the rain, the river was now rushing along in a furious torrent, which swept men and horses to destruction. It is said that 15,000 prisoners were secured; that 10,000 men had been killed in the fight, not counting those who perished in the river; rich spoils of gold and silver were taken in the camp. The choicest of the arms were sent to the Isthmus to be dedicated in the temple of Poseidon.

The battle had fallen out clean contrary to what was like to have been. Timoleon had gained a victory which may be set beside Gelon’s victory at Himera. But he did not follow it up; he made no attempt to cut short the Phoenician dominion in Sicily. Perhaps his inaction was due less to unwillingness than to embarrassments which threatened Syracuse. The tyrant of Catane, who had gone over to Timoleon, declared against him. Hiketas seems to have seized again the tyranny at Leontini; and Timoleon found himself engaged in a war with these two tyrants, Mamercus and Hiketas, who were aided by Carthaginian mercenaries. At last both the tyrants were captured. The Syracusans put them both to death, and slew the wife and daughter of Hiketas, in retaliation for the murder of the wife and sister of Dion. The Messanians also put to death their oppressor, Hippon, with torture, and the school-boys were taken to the theatre to witness a tyrant’s death. Other cities under the yoke of tyranny were likewise liberated, and some dispeopled towns, like Acragas and Gela, were colonised. After twenty years of troubles Sicily was to have a respite now. Carthage made peace, the Halycus being again fixed as the frontier, and she undertook to do nothing to uphold tyrants in Greek cities.

Timoleon had now delivered Sicily both from domestic despots and from foreign foes, and having achieved his task he laid down the powers which had been granted to him for its performance. Among the great men in Greek history he holds a unique place; for the work which he accomplished was inspired neither by selfish ambition nor by patriotism. He sought no power for himself; he laboured in a strange land for cities which might adopt him, but were not his own. Patriotism, indeed, in the widest sense, might stimulate his ardour, when he fought for Hellas against the Phoenician. But of Greek leaders who achieved as much as he, there is none whose conduct was, like Timoleon’s, wholly guided by simple devotion to duty. The Syracusans gave him a property near Syracuse, and there he dwelt till his death, two years after his crowning victory. Occasionally he visited the city when the folk wished to ask for his counsel, but he had become blind and these visits were rare. He was lamented by all Greek Sicily, and at Syracuse his memory was preserved by a group of public buildings called after him.

The land had rest for twenty years after Timoleon’s death; the direct results of his work did not amount to more than that. A tyrant arose then of a worse type than the elder Dionysius, and his hand was heavy upon Sicily. But the career of Agathocles lies outside the limits of this history.


Sect. 12. Events in Great Greece

In these days, troubles and dangers beset the Greeks of Italy no less than their brethren of Sicily. On the mainland, as in the island, the Hellenic name seemed like to have been blotted out,—there by the Phoenicians and the Italian mercenaries, here by the native races. The power of the elder Dionysius had kept at bay the Lucanians, the Messapians, the Iapygians, and other neighbours who pressed on Great Greece; but when his son was attacked by Dion, the Syracusan empire dissolved of itself, and the barbarians of Italy, having no great power to fear, began anew to descend from the mountains on the Greek settlements of the coast. A number of tribes in the toe of the peninsula banded themselves together in a league with their federal tian league capital at Consentia; and this Brettian league, as it was called, aimed at subduing all the Greek cities of the promontory. Terina, Hipponion, New Sybaris on the Traeis, and other places were captured. Men were not blind to the danger which menaced Western Hellas, of being sunk under a tide of barbarism; one of the objects of Plato and Dion had been to drive all the barbarian mercenaries out of Greek Sicily. But in Italy the peril was greatest, and there was sore need of help from without. The appeal of Syracuse to her mother Corinth and the coming of Timoleon put it into the mind of Taras, hard bestead by the neighbouring peoples, to ask succour of her mother Sparta. The appeal came at a favourable moment. Sparta was not King in a position to undertake any political scheme at home, and king Archidamus eagerly embraced the chance of going forth to fight for Hellas against the barbarians of the West, even as his father Agesilaus, sixty years ago, had fought against the barbarians of the East. He got together a band of mercenaries, chiefly from the Phocian survivors of the Sacred War, and sailed to Italy. For four or five years seemingly he strove against the barbarians, but without winning any decisive success, and was finally killed at Mandonia in a battle with the Lucanians. The ineffectual expedition of Archidamus was a striking contrast to the brilliant achievements of Timoleon. But Taras was not ungrateful for his efforts. She had commemorated her appeal to Sparta by minting beautiful gold pieces, on which the infant Taras was shown supplicating Poseidon of Cape Taenarus. The tragic issue of that appeal suggested a motive for another series of coins, and called forth one of those pathetic allusions which Greek art could achieve with matchless grace. Taras is represented riding on his dolphin and sadly contemplating a helmet; it is the helmet of the Spartan king who had fallen in his service.

Taras was soon forced to seek a new champion. She invited Alexander of Molossia, the uncle of Alexander the Great, and this king saw and seized the chance of founding an empire in the West — of doing there on a small scale what his nephew was accomplishing on a mighty scale in Asia. He was an able man and success attended his arms. On the east coast of Italy he subdued the Messapians, and pushed as far north as Sipontum, which he captured. In the west he smote the Brettian league, seizing Consentia and liberating Terina. His power was so great in the south that Rome made a treaty with him; and it is possible that his designs reached to Sicily. The welcome given to this ally and deliverer was also reflected in the money of Taras; coins were struck with the seated eagle of Dodona and the thunderbolt of Zeus beside it. But Taras presently felt her own freedom menaced by the conqueror, and she renounced her alliance. War ensued, Thurii upholding Alexander. The barbarians profited by these struggles to rise against their conqueror, and a battle was fought at Pandosia. During the engagement, a Lucanian exile in the Tarentine army stabbed the king in the back, and the design of an Epirote empire bestriding the Hadriatic perished with him. This befell not long after the overthrow of the Persian monarchy on the field of Gaugamela. But Alexander’s work had not been futile; henceforward Taras was able to keep the upper hand over her Italian neighbours.