HISTORY OF GREECE
 
 

HISTORY OF GREECE MACEDON FROM 401 TO 301 BC

 

CHAPTER V

DIONYSIUS OF SYRACUSE

 

I. CARTHAGINIAN INVASIONS. 409-406 BC.

 

The victory of Syracuse over Athens did not lead immediately, as might have been expected, to an assertion of her dominion over all the Greek communities of Sicily. But her victory led, as in the case of Athens after the Persian War, to a distinct development of democracy. The absence of Hermocrates on naval work in the cause of Sparta and of the Peloponnesians removed the gravest obstacle to the plans of the democratic party. After the triumphant defeat of the Athenian expedition the elated Syracusans decided to take an active part in destroying the Athenian Empire altogether, whereby they would repay the debt they owed their Peloponnesian allies for the decisive assistance they had sent to Sicily. Accordingly Syracusan and other Siceliote forces sailed to the coasts of Asia Minor to reinforce the Spartan armies which were now acting with Persian help against the cities which belonged to the Athenian Empire. The statesman Hermocrates, who had been the most effective leader of the Syracusans in resisting the Athenians, was the most conspicuous of the generals commanding these Sicilian contingents, which seem to have made a very good impression by their gallantry and good behaviour. In the meantime in Syracuse Itself party warfare had broken out and, in the absence of Hermocrates, one of his political opponents named Diocles had gained preponderant influence in the Assembly, and had induced it to pass a decree of banishment against Hermocrates and the other absent generals. Diocles, the chief opponent of Hermocrates, made changes and adopted ideas which seem to have been inspired by Athenian practice. The transfer of power from the military and other civil authorities was especially important, and the magistrates, who were now appointed by lot, were restricted in their control of the Assembly.

 

HANNIBAL'S EXPEDITION TO SICILY

 

This democratized state had now to face the danger of a new Carthaginian invasion. The fact that Carthage, since her repulse at Himera in 480 BC had been quiescent in Sicily we may perhaps partly attribute to troubles with the native Africans, but now she thought that the weakening of the Sicilian communities by the war with Athens offered a good opportunity for her to strengthen her hold on the island. The frontier dispute between Selinus and Segesta, which had now been resumed, afforded her a welcome pretext when Segesta appealed to her for help.

Mercenaries were enlisted in Spain and troops raised in Libya until the army exceeded 100,000 men, well provided with all the resources of Punic siege-craft. The transports, 1500 in number, were covered by a battle-fleet of 60 warships. In 409 BC all was ready, and the suffete Hannibal was appointed commander. The obsession of vengeance for his grandfather, Hamilcar, who fell in the great disaster at Himera made him eagerly accept the duty. He crossed to the neighbourhood of Motya and, joining forces with his Sicilian allies, marched to Selinus which was taken, sacked and destroyed, despite a brave resistance. Hannibal, having performed the duty which he had been sent by the state to perform, then turned his thoughts to his personal plans of vengeance. He marched to Himera and besieged it, but before his troops could force an entrance, help came from Syracuse, under the command of Diocles. Hannibal was forced to resort to stratagem, and declared that his plan was to march upon Syracuse. Anxious to return to protect his native town, Diocles persuaded the Himeraeans to abandon their city. Half the inhabitants were put on a squadron of 25 triremes which had just appeared, and sailed for Messana, while the remainder were to hold out until the ships returned. Meanwhile Hannibal pressed the siege with redoubled vigour. When the returning ships were in sight of the doomed city, the Spanish troops of Hannibal broke through the walls and massacred the inhabitants. Himera perished utterly. The solemn rites of torture and death were held on the spot where Hamilcar had died. Leaving troops to support the allies of Carthage, Hannibal returned to Carthage, content with revenge and his success at Selinus.

But at this very moment there returned to Sicily the Syracusan Hermocrates to trouble the peace both of Carthage and of his own city. He had with him a small fleet and army procured by the parting gifts of his friend Pharnabazus the satrap. Failing to secure admission to Syracuse, he resolved to distinguish himself by warfare against the national enemy. He made Selinus his base and ravaged the territories first of Motya and then of Panprmus. Phoenician Sicily was no longer inviolate. These successes invited a reaction in his favor, which he sought to increase by sending back to Syracuse the bones of the citizens which Diocles had left unburied before the walls of Himera. The solemn procession marked the contrast between his achievement and the failure of his democratic rival. Diocles was exiled, but the Syracusans refused to vote the recall of Hermocrates, For, not without reason, they suspected that he was determined to be the master of Syracuse. Thereupon Hermocrates sought to force an entry, but his friends failed him, and he fell in the agora near the gate of Achradina.

The Syracusans who had not wished to gain a tyrant at the price of Carthaginian enmity sought to disown the activities of Hermocrates in Western Sicily, but the Carthaginians, at once encouraged and infuriated, decided to send another great expedition and subdue Greek Sicily once for all. Before we follow the fortunes of this army we may pause to notice how the destroyed city of Himera lived again in the new town of Thermae founded near its site. Though intended to be purely Carthaginian and Libyan, the Greeks who migrated to this settlement on the hill of the hot springs soon made it practically a Greek city. Its inhabitants were generally known as Himeraeans. It is the modern Termini.

 

PUNIC SIEGE OF ACRAGAS

 

While embassies had gone to and fro between Syracuse and Carthage, the recruiting agents of Carthage had hired mercenaries in Spain, the Balearic islands, and Italy. These with contingents from the African allies and dependencies made up an armament which even exceeded the Grand Army of 409. Hannibal was again in command, with his younger kinsman Himilco as his chief lieutenant. His first task was not easy, the safe passage of his transports to Sicily in the face of the Syracusan fleet. This he achieved by exposing a squadron to defeat near Mt Eryx while the remainder of his ships crossed in safety to the south-west of the island (406 BC). His first objective was Acragas. She had for many years enjoyed a prosperous neutrality in the Sicilian wars, and had become famous for her luxury. A characteristic regulation existed that the guards in the watch-towers should have only the scant comfort of a mattress, two pillows and a quilt. But the city was strong by nature and art, and the Greeks of eastern Sicily and southern Italy promised to send a relieving army. With a Spartan, Dexippus, as commander and with a stiffening of Campanian mercenaries, the Acragantines resolved to resist. The Carthaginians fortified their main camp on the right bank of the river Hypsas and assailed the western wall of the city. To help their assaults they began to construct a huge causeway. For this purpose stones were taken in the necropolis and notably from the tomb of Theron, until a thunderbolt falling on the tomb, and a pestilence, to which Hannibal himself fell a victim, aroused the superstitions of the soldiers. But Himilco was as adroit as his kinsman. The tombs were left untouched, a boy was sacrificed to Moloch, and the causeway was completed.

With the approach of the relieving army of the Greeks came the crisis of the siege. The Syracusan commander Daphnaeus, at the head of 30,000 foot and 5000 horse crossed the river Himeras and defeated the forces posted to block his way. But the treachery or the incompetence of the generals within the city allowed these troops to escape, and the strong camp to the west of the city saved the Carthaginian army. The superior Syracusan cavalry cut off supplies until the Carthaginians were in great straits. But Himilco contrived to capture a convoy bringing food by sea from Syracuse to Acragas and, in a moment, the situation was reversed. The Campanian mercenaries in the city proved disloyal as food became scarce. Dexippus was suspected of being responsible for the further misfortune of the desertion of the Italiote and Sicilian allies, and the men of Acragas were left alone to defend their city as best they could. They came to the amazing resolve to abandon it and marched out at night unmolested. Himilco entered the city and sacked it; the great temple of Zeus was doomed by the victor to remain unfinished. By this time winter had set in, and the general made Acragas his winter quarters hoping to refound it as a Carthaginian city.

 

II. RISE OF DIONYSIUS. 405 BC.

 

Sicily was now in great peril; it looked as if the whole island might be enslaved by the Carthaginian invader. For the fall of Acragas the Syracusan generals were widely blamed; whether incompetent or corrupt they were not the men to deal with a great crisis.

But a deliverer arose, a friend of Hermocrates who had been left for dead in the last fight in the agora, who realized that this was a good opportunity to destroy the already weakened democracy of Syracuse. His name was Dionysius, and he made a speech in the Assembly so violent that he had to be fined, but he would not be silenced and carried his point, through the generosity of his friend Philistus, the historian, who promised to pay each fine as it was imposed. New generals were appointed of whom Dionysius was one. This was his first step to supreme power; he then worked against his colleagues spreading suspicions of their loyalty. He was elected sole general with unlimited powers - strategos autocrator. This was the second step towards tyranny. His next move was to march the Syracusan army to Leontini. The day after his arrival there, a rumour was spread abroad that he had been compelled to seek sanctuary in the Acropolis on account of an attempt on his life, and the citizens of Syracuse gave him a bodyguard of 600 soldiers. Dionysius thus attained the supreme power. He did not attempt to change the constitution; the Assembly still met.

Dionysius was one of those Greek politicians of the same order as Peisistratus and Themistocles, who had been prefigured in early Greek legend by Odysseus, the man of crafty counsels; never at a loss to find a way out of difficulties, far-seeing and extraordinarily astute, gaining his ends by tortuous paths. He was to become the most remarkable statesman in the Greek world of his day, and having secured the firm mastery of Syracuse he was to rule nearly the whole of Sicily and ultimately he was to create an Empire northwards into Italy, wielding a power not only such as no Sicilian potentate had ever wielded before, but so large and formidable that Greeks compared his position in Western Europe with that of the Persian King in the East.

The real reason of the rise of Dionysius to power was the crying need of a competent general to oppose Carthage, but at this time, although he was destined to live to be the defender of Hellenic Sicily, he did not fullfil the hopes of the Syracusans. In command of a large army and fleet he proceeded to Gela, which Himilco was besieging. One of the first incidents of the siege was the plunder of the precinct of Apollo outside the walls. The famous statue of the god was sent to Tyre, the mother city of Carthage. As at Acragas the Carthaginians had a strongly fortified camp which the relieving army hoped to take by a simultaneous assault from several sides. Dionysius and his mercenaries failed to carry out their part, the Italiote and Siceliote forces were defeated separately and the attack was a complete failure. The Geloans had defended their city stoutly; their fate was now debated in a private council. It was decided that the people should abandon their city immediately, and Dionysius on his march to Syracuse also persuaded the people of Camarina to leave their homes, and a piteous train of fugitives from both towns took the road to Syracuse. The south coast of Sicily was lost and the Carthaginian army might be expected on the heels of the fugitives. This extraordinary end to the campaign aroused suspicion that Dionysius was in league with the Carthaginians. The Italiote allies marched home and the Syracusan horsemen determined to overthrow the tyrant. They attacked his house and ill-treated his wife. Dionysius hurried to the city, which he entered by burning the gate of Achradina, and forced the rebels to fly to Aetna. There can be little question that in abandoning the defence of Gela and Camarina, Dionysius was deliberately playing into the hand of Himilco, and the treaty which he made with this general clearly shows his desire to conciliate Carthage. On the other hand the Carthaginian army had been weakened by sickness and Himilco may well have shrunk from undertaking the most arduous siege of all, that of Syracuse itself.

 

TREATY BETWEEN SYRACUSE AND CARTHAGE

 

The stipulations of the peace between Syracuse and Carthage now arranged by Dionysius and Himilco were as follows: Carthage was to keep Acragas, Selinus and Thermae and the Elymian and Sican towns were to remain her subjects. Gela and Camarina were to be tributary and unwalled cities. The Sicels were to be free, and Messana and Leontini were recognized as independent commonwealths. The Carthaginians were to guarantee the rule of Dionysius over Syracuse and the integrity of Syracusan territory.

It will be observed that in this treaty Carthage and Syracuse disposed of the whole island. The clause respecting Leontini was an exception to the general principles of the treaty and was evidently intended to cause future embarrassment to Syracuse. Dionysius cannot well have approved of this, but we must remember that the treaty was almost dictated by the victor. No mention was made of Catana or Naxos, ancient enemies of Syracuse, evidently an offset to the independence of Leontini. The clause about the Sicels is noteworthy, and we shall subsequently see its significance. Thus the Carthaginian invasion ended in the complete establishment of Dionysius as tyrant of Syracuse; he had not the least intention of observing the terms of the treaty, but he had gained Carthaginian recognition,

Syracuse under Dionysius was a military state, and as lord of Syracuse, he was primarily and above all a war-lord. The fleet of Syracuse was rapidly increased, and the forests of Italy and Aetna were felled to build new warships, some of them with four and five banks of oars. The Carthaginians had used against the Greeks all the devices of oriental siege-craft. Dionysius replied by the yet more effective inventions of his engineers, above all, great catapults which could batter the walls of towns from a range of some two or three hundred yards. But more fruitful than these material inventions was Dionysius' scientific study of the coordination of all arms, cavalry, heavy-armed infantry and light-armed troops on the field of battle. The outworn formulas of Greek warfare were cast aside, and with the campaigns of Dionysius, as with those of Napoleon, we enter on a new phase in the art of war. The boldness of Brasidas, the strategical talents of Cimon had performed wonders in the older style of warfare. Dionysius, even though he may have lacked their natural gifts, surpasses them as the first great scientific soldier, the forerunner of Epaminondas and the great Macedonians.

Dionysius' skill in fortification was first applied to his own security, and the Island (Ortygia) which was the Acropolis of Syracuse, became an impregnable fortress. It was completely cut off from the city by a wall, and this conversion of the Island into a separate fortified quarter was somewhat as if William III of England had seated himself in the Tower of London and, ejecting all the inhabitants from their abodes, had turned the City of London into barracks. It was impossible to enter the Island from Achradina except through five successive gates, and the ends of the Island were protected by two castles. In the lesser harbour new docks were built and it became the chief naval arsenal. A mole admitting only one ship at a time further secured the safety of the Syracusan navy. No citizens were allowed to dwell on the Island who were not definitely supporters and trusted friends of the tyrant, who was surrounded here by his foreign mercenaries.

 

CHARACTER AND POLICY OF DIONYSIUS

 

We may here pause a moment to consider the qualities of character that helped to establish the long reign of this singular man. The antecedents of Dionysius are unknown to us; he was what we may call a novus homo, that is, he was a political upstart; all we know of him is that his father's name was Hermocrates, and he was the son-in-law of Hermocrates the statesman; thus he probably began life as a political opportunist, having no attachments to any particular party, no sentiments or traditions to move him in any special direction. He seems to have been entirely free from superstition, as he did not scruple to plunder temples: for example, he stripped off the golden garment of Zeus in the temple at Syracuse observing that such a robe was no use to the god, being too hot in summer and too cold in winter. He had no reverence or feeling for historical tradition. He was largely indifferent to public opinion, although he could make use of it when it suited him for his own purposes, and he took little account of Greek customs and conventions. He was a bigamist; contrary to the universal usage of the Greeks he married two wives, Doris of Locri and Aristomache of Syracuse, and lived happily with them both at the same time. His methods were utterly unscrupulous, but he was not a vulgar tyrant. He allowed nothing to stand in the way of his gaining his political ends, and consequently he was often cruel and oppressive, but he did not indulge in cruelty for its own sake. He was not a man of luxurious tastes or habits; orgies and debaucheries, such as we hear of in other tyrants, were, not the order of the day in his palace. At first, Syracusan citizens had not very much to fear from his covetousness for their private property, nor had they to dread outrages upon the honor of their families. We can in fact impute little blame to his private life, although we know little of it. These merits were probably the secret of his being able to preserve his tyranny safely. He showed his freedom from sentiment towards the past most conspicuously, perhaps, by his treatment of Naxos, which we shall presently narrate.

All Sicilians reverenced this city as the oldest Greek colony in the island, older than Syracuse itself. We cannot imagine any other Greek potentate in Sicily venturing to destroy the place and hand over the site to the Sicels. Free from the sentiments and prejudices common to nearly all Greek politicians, Dionysius looked upon the world in a detached manner, unlike most Hellenic statesmen. He approached every problem which presented itself in a temper of what we may perhaps call political realism. As examples of this attitude of mind may be mentioned his rich rewards to his friends and servants and his enfranchisement of slaves, out of whom he formed a class of New Citizens. But there was no lack of people in Syracuse who clearly saw that their constitutional tradition had been broken and who felt no loyalty to a tyrant surrounded by foreign mercenaries.

One of the first acts of Dionysius after the Carthaginians had gone was to attack Herbessus, a Sicel town on the, borders, of Syracusan and Leontine territory, probably to be ideatified with Pantalica. The citizens in the army were mutinously inclined and, having slain one of their officers, broke into open revolt. Dionysius fled back to Syracuse and took refuge in his own fortress. The rebellious citizens joined with exiled knights at Aetna and sent pressing messages to Messana and Rhegium for help, and they responded by sending eighty triremes (403 BC). Dionysius was so hard pressed by the besiegers that he called a council of his staunchest supporters, and how desperate these deemed the situation is shown by a famous remark of one Heloris, "Tyranny is a fair winding-sheet". Though most of his friends urged him to flee, Dionysius made up his mind to leave the city openly. He asked the besiegers to let him leave Syracuse and he was given five triremes. He succeeded in obtaining the help of some Campanian mercenaries who had been in the service of Carthage, and with them occupied the hills of Epipolae, In a quarter of the city for the first time called Neapolis Dionysius routed the insurgents, but this victory was followed by a policy of leniency and returning rebels were accepted again as citizens. The occupation of the Sican town of Entella by the Campanians was a notable result of this episode. By exterminating the men and marrying the women the Campanians made the first Italian settlement in Sicily.

During the rule of Dionysius the outward forms of a Commonwealth at Syracuse had been continued and Dionysius governed the State as a constitutional Magistrate of the Commonwealth. He was elected, so far as we know, every year by the Assembly as strategos autocrator or Supreme General without colleagues. This title lent itself extremely well to masking the position of tyrant. It regularized as it were the absolute military powers which he held and, just as at Athens under the tyranny of Peisistratus the forms of the Solonian constitution were still practised, and the Solonian magistrates still appointed, though of no political importance, so the ordinary affairs of Syracuse seem to have been conducted according to the old constitutional practices, though always at the discretion of the tyrant; just as Gelon and the Deinomenidae had in old days wielded their authority under the same title of strategos autocrator. Although there was only one Strategos there was a nauarch or commander of the fleet, who may have been appointed formally every year by the Assembly, but was actually chosen by Dionysius; in fact Leptines, the tyrant's brother, held this post continuously until he fell into disgrace and was succeeded by another brother of the tyrant. The Phrourarchs, or Wardens of Forts, about whose appointment we have no clear evidence, were completely subservient to Dionysius. Philistus the historian was at one time Phrourarch of Syracuse.

 

III. DIONYSIUS AND THE SICELS. 403 BC.

 

Both Syracuse and Carthage had come to see that the power of the Sicel cities was seriously to be reckoned with, and this was shown in a stipulation of the recent treaty with Carthage. The Sicel communities were mainly in the east and north-east of the island, in regions neighbouring to Syracusan territory. While Himilco would naturally regard them as a counterpoise to Syracuse, an active Syracusan government would naturally seek to bring them under its control. Dionysius showed a firm grasp of the situation by his promptness in opening a campaign against the Sicel cities and we have seen him in his first enterprise at Herbessus, cut short by events which recalled him suddenly to Syracuse. This campaign against the Sicels was his first breach of the treaty with Carthage, which he had never intended to observe. When he had left Syracuse tranquil he next appears at Enna. In this hellenized city there was an ambitious citizen with the Greek name of Aeimnestus who was bent on seizing supreme power. He was a tool ready for Dionysius at whose instigation he made himself tyrant, but having gained the power he refused to admit Dionysius inside the gates. The tyrant of Syracuse now turned to the people of Enna and incited them to resist the tyranny he had himself helped to make. When the people were in the Agora clamouring for freedom, Dionysius, accompanied by a few light-armed troops, had climbed up a steep unguarded path and appeared in dramatic fashion on the scene. He seized the tyrant and handed him over to the citizens to punish. He left the city immediately without drawing any advantage for himself out of the situation. It is said that his motive was to gain the confidence of other Sicel towns. He next proceeded against Herbita, of which the ruler was Archonides, son or grandson of Archonides the coadjutor of Ducetius forty years before. But he was unable to take the city, and made peace with the Herbitaeans. This peace, we are expressly told, was made with the people of Herbita, not with their ruler. The result was a breach between Archonides and his people, for we find him founding the new city of Halaesa on the north coast to the west of Cale Acte, and settling there a mixed crowd of mercenaries as well as some of the Herbitaeans who were loyal to their prince. This city was distinguished from other places of the same name by being called Archonidean Halaesa.

Archonides was probably the most representative Sicel of this time, and at Herbita were probably best preserved the traditions of the old Sicel confederation which Ducetius, helped by the first Archonides, had founded.

Some years later we find Dionysius in possession of a title which would be more appropriate to Archonides - the title Ruler of Sicily. This is the title by which he is described ten years later in a decree of the Athenians . We have no direct evidence that he used it of himself, yet when we find it used of him officially by the Athenian Chancery we can hardly fail to infer that it was the style he himself used in his dealings with foreign Powers. When in the course of his lifetime Dionysius had come to be the master of the greater part of the island, the term Ruler of Sicily might seem to express very aptly his position in the Western world, a position going much beyond that of a Lord of Syracuse and representing almost the whole of non-Punic Sicily; but the puzzle remains how did Dionysius come to acquire this title, which, when one comes to think of it, is almost as strange as if we should find a powerful Spartan king (say Agesilaus) describing himself or being described by others as Archon of the Peloponnese. Some further explanation seems wanted. It is the conjecture of the present writer that this title was borne by Archonides and that it was conferred on Dionysius by the Herbitaeans either on this occasion or in a later year (395 BC) when it is recorded that Dionysius made a treaty with Herbita. He could thus assume the rĂ´le of successor of Ducetius and claim to be a protector and leader of all the Sicel communities - dynast of the Sicels, to use the phrase which Diodorus used of Ducetius. In the states of the mother- country few people understood the difference between Sicels and Siceliotes and it would there be generally taken for granted that Dionysius was the lord of the whole island, and not merely General of Syracuse.

 

FORTIFICATION OF SYRACUSE

 

The Greek cities were next attacked by the tyrant, Aetna was captured, and the refugees and malcontents who were its inhabitants were dispersed. In fear Catana and Leontini had formed an alliance, but no attack was necessary upon Catana, for traitors within her gates, as was also the case at Naxos, admitted Dionysius in return for gold. The fate of these two cities was terrible. Their inhabitants were driven from their homes, and Catana was handed over to Campanian mercenaries, and from being a Greek city became the second Italian town in Sicily. The fate of Naxos was worse; it was utterly destroyed, its name hardly kept alive by a handful of settlers and its territory handed over to the Sicels. The Archon of Sicily thus restored to the Sicels the place where the Greeks had founded their first colony more than three centuries before. This event was no integral part of the policy of Dionysius; his chief motive in this campaign was to recover Leontini and the unusual severity which the tyrant showed towards Catana and Naxos was clearly designed for this end. To reduce Leontini by arms would have proved a long and difficult task. When the Syracusan army approached the walls, the Leontines gladly accepted the offer to become Syracusan citizens and forsook their city.

This act was a definite breach of the stipulation in the treaty with Carthage that Leontini was to be independent. Dionysius knew that his campaign would rouse deep resentment and was determined to be well prepared for the coming struggle. He proceeded to make Syracuse impregnable, and remembering lessons that had been taught him by the Athenian siege, he designed a plan for the fortification of the heights of Epipolae. At Euryalus. Dionysius built his great castle with its underground chambers and galleries, the ruins of which are perhaps the most striking monument of Syracuse. Walls to join this outpost to the city were built with amazing swiftness by 60,000 freedmen supervised by Dionysius himself. Three miles of wall were built in twenty days and the fortification, when complete made Syracuse the strongest of all Greek cities.

 

IV. FIRST WAR WITH CARTHAGE. 398-392 BC

 

The object of Dionysius in his first war with Carthage was not only to deliver Greek cities from Phoenician rule but to conquer Phoenician Sicily itself. The tributary towns of Gela and Camarina and the subject towns of Acragas and Thermae, and the Elymian town Eryx received him as a friend. As soon as the news came that the Syracusan army was approaching, the Greeks of the subject cities massacred the Carthaginians with great cruelty. 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.

 

SIEGE OF 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 the 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 out- numbered. 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, and the Greeks were victorious.

The doom of the Motyans was what might have been expected. It was the answer of the Sicilian Greeks to the slaughter inflicted by Hannibal upon the men of Himera. The victorious soldiers massacred every human being in the streets of Motya without regard to age or sex. At last Dionysius was able to stay this useless slaughter of victims who would have fetched a price in the slave-market by issuing an order that any of the conquered who survived should be spared if they sought refuge in certain shrines. The soldiers then concentrated their attention upon booty. Those of the enemy who thus escaped death were sold as slaves, but there was one class of his foes for whom a harsher doom was reserved; these were the Greek mercenary soldiers in the Carthaginian service. In helping and serving the barbarian against the Greek cities of Sicily they had proved themselves renegades to Hellas; and Dionysius decided, doubtless with the general approval of his army, to treat them with exceptional rigour and make an example of them which might deter others from doing as they had done. He doomed them to the lingering death of crucifixion, a torture which it was quite unusual for Greeks to inflict upon their prisoners, an act worthy of a Punic not of a Greek commander. Dionysius was not usually or instinctively cruel, and in this instance he must have had reasons for considering cruelty politic, but in any case he stood far below the level of the standards of humanity which governed the conduct of Alexander the Great. Having left a Sicel garrison in the conquered city, Dionysius returned to Syracuse for the winter, but in the spring he returned to western Sicily, to proceed against Segesta, which was still holding out (397 BC). Carthage awakened to see her Sicilian dominion in grave peril and again Himilco commanded an expedition to retrieve the disaster.

 

HIMILCO'S MARCH TO SYRACUSE

 

His forces were perhaps almost equal to those of Dionysius, but though he succeeded in landing the larger part of his army at Panormus, some of his transports were sunk by the Syracusan admiral Leptines, brother of the tyrant. The events that followed are difficult to explain and make us pause to consider the actions of Dionysius as a military commander.

We do not find him fighting pitched battles; diplomacy played a large part even in his siege-warfare. Eryx fell by treason to the enemy, and Himilco captured Motya, which had been taken the year before by Dionysius in what was perhaps his most brilliant military exploit. The Carthaginian army marched without any attempt being made to intercept it, and yet a check to the progress of Himilco would have effectually gained the object Dionysius had set out to attain, namely the capture of Segesta. Thus in his second campaign the tyrant lost everything he had won in his first. Himilco did not trouble to rebuild Motya, but founded a new city hard by which was destined to continue the history of Motya. This city of Lilybaeum (Marsala) was protected by the sea on two sides and on the other two by walls with deep ditches, and it was for many centuries the great naval station of Carthage in Sicily far more famous than Motya.

Himilco's eyes were now fixed upon Syracuse, whither Dionysius had retired ravaging the country through which he believed that the Carthaginians must march. But Himilco, using his fleet to protect him and furnish supplies, advanced along the north coast towards Messana, intending thus to control the Straits and intercept possible help from Italy or Hellas. The inhabitants of Messana fled to the surrounding hills leaving the city empty; the Carthaginian general destroyed it so completely that its site could hardly be identified. We have seen how Dionysius gave the lands of Naxos to the Sicels, but we have no evidence that he had gained their friendship. Himilco now made a bid for that friendship, and so these, the most ancient inhabitants of the Island, were wooed by the Carthaginian and the Greek general alike.

Dionysius now sought to cover Syracuse by holding a strong position some sixteen miles north of the city. Thence, on the news that an eruption of Aetna had forced Himilco to march inland and so become separated from his fleet, he advanced north to Catana with fleet and army, hoping to prevent the junction of the enemy forces. But the plan miscarried. The Syracusan fleet though slightly inferior in numbers 180 as against 200 ships was partly of quadriremes and quinqueremes, the Dreadnoughts of Greek naval warfare. But the tyrant's brother Leptines who commanded made the mistake of dividing his forces and was utterly defeated with the loss of half his fleet. The Syracusan army, which had remained the passive spectator of the disaster, fell back on Syracuse. It was a dangerous moment for Greek civilization and urgent messages were sent to Sparta, to Corinth, and to Italy, begging for help. The Carthaginian fleet sailed in triumph into the Great Harbour, while Himilco's army encamped on the banks of the river Anapus, and the unfortunate Syracusans trembled with fear and anger at the sacrilegious acts of their enemies. Himilco and his guards were quartered within the precincts of the temple of Zeus, and the sanctuaries of Demeter and Kore on the south-west of Achradina were despoiled. Himilco immediately proceeded, according to the practice of Carthaginian warfare, to protect his army and fleet. This he did by building three strong forts, one at Plemmyrium, one at Dascon and the third near his own camp. By this time the winter had set in and put an end to active operations. While Dionysius awaited the arrival of his allies, the Syracusans had quite different ideas as to what they were to do when this help arrived. They were angry with their tyrant, who instead of bringing them victory had accepted defeat, and they determined to overthrow him with the help of the Peloponnesians. But the latter, above all the Spartan admiral Pharax, declared plainly that the object of their expedition was to help Dionysius. Alarmed at this outburst of disaffection in the city, Dionysius endeavoured to win the Syracusans back to their allegiance. In the meantime a plague broke out in the Carthaginian army encamped in the unwholesome swamps of the Anapus, and gave an opportunity for Dionysius to show his skill in attack. He gave orders to his fleet under Leptines and Pharax to attack off Dascon. Syracusan horsemen and mercenary foot-soldiers were sent to assail the camp on the west side at night, but it had been secretly arranged that the cavalry should desert the mercenaries during the battle and ride round to the east. But this was only a feint; the real attack was on the east with the help of ships sent across the bay, and at Polichna the assault was led by Dionysius himself. The attack was entirely successful, the mercenaries were slaughtered, both forts captured and the victorious Syracusan army rushed to the shore and burnt the Carthaginian fleet. The completeness of this victory stands in striking contrast with the fiasco at Gela nine years before.

 

HIMILCO'S DEFEAT AT SYRACUSE

 

The Greeks wished to exterminate if possible their Punic enemy, but this was not the policy of Dionysius. Feeling that it was not entirely in his interest as tyrant of Syracuse to obliterate the Carthaginian power in Sicily he made a secret agreement with Himilco. It is said that he accepted a bribe of 300 talents: such a charge was certain to be made and it may be true, for Dionysius was the last man to refuse payment for doing what he wished to do. The agreement was that the Carthaginian citizens in the enemy's army should make their escape by night, while Dionysius called off his troops from their attack on the enemy's camp. Himilco had forty triremes still seaworthy and held Plemmyrium, which controlled the exit from the Great Harbour. During the respite from attacks by land he embarked his citizen-troops and sailed off. The Corinthian allies of Syracuse heard the sound of the ships leaving the harbour; but the tyrant purposely delayed his preparations, and no more than the rearguard of the Punic fleet was sunk by the Corinthians, who anticipated the orders to attack which never came. The Sicels who had fought on the side of Carthage scattered to their homes. The remainder of Himilco's troops, abandoned and in despair, were slain or enslaved, except the Iberian mercenaries, who stood to their arms stoutly until Dionysius took them into his service. Himilco returned to Carthage vanquished, his career ended and only disgrace before him, but there was no treaty between Carthage and Syracuse.

The positions of the two foes were now reversed, the Greek cause in Sicily had triumphed (396 BC) and the larger part of the island was under the lordship of Dionysius. Only the original part of the western corner remained to Carthage. Perhaps no more favourable moment had ever come for attempting completely to destroy Phoenician rule in Sicily than immediately after the great defeat of Himilco's expedition. Carthage was embarrassed by a revolt of her subjects in Africa and any Greek leader who had at heart the cause of Hellas against the Semite barbarian would hardly have failed to press home his victory. But Dionysius made no attempt to drive the Phoenicians out of the island, so he cannot be described as a single-minded champion of Hellas. We must recognize that it was a fixed principle in the policy of Dionysius not to press the Carthaginians too hard and that he never aimed at making Sicily a Greek island. He seemed to have considered it more expedient for Syracuse and himself to suffer the Phoenicians as neighbours, hoping by their menace to protect his own despotic rule.

During the next few years (395-92 BC) Dionysius was more preoccupied with establishing his authority over the Sicel towns, which, it will be remembered, had been his first concern after the first invasion of Himilco. He captured Enna, for there were traitors in the city and one of the weapons in the wars of Dionysius was bribery. The same instrument of war gained him Cephaloedium. Morgantina also submitted and treaties were made with Herbita and the tyrants of Centuripa and Agyrium. Dionysius also made an alliance with Assorus and made peace with Herbessus. But of all the Sicel towns it was perhaps most important to reduce the new stronghold which Himilco had encouraged his allies to found at Tauromenium, which threatened any Syracusan army on its way to the north. Dionysius resolved to attack it in winter, but was unsuccessful in his rather dramatic attempt to take the citadels, nearly losing his life in a precipitous descent down the cliffs after his repulse. We may remark that, as in this case, when some difficult and dangerous adventure was to be carried through, Dionysius never shrank from leading his soldiers in person.

But the Carthaginians were to reappear on the scene (392 BC). The cause of the new hostilities is obscure. We know that Dionysius gained possession of Solus, the most easterly of the three ancient Phoenician colonies, through treachery, but we have no record that a special attempt against it was made by the tyrant. Mago was commander of the forces and garrisons in the Carthaginian possessions in Sicily. It may have been the occupation of Solus, together with the blow which Tauromenium had dealt to the prestige of the tyrant, that caused him to march against Messana, which had been recently rebuilt as a Syracusan colony. He was met by Dionysius with superior forces and was decisively defeated in a pitched battle. He then sailed for Carthage to obtain reinforcements, while Dionysius marched against Rhegium. The city was hard pressed, but the news that a new Carthaginian army had landed forced the tyrant to make an armistice, while he turned to face Mago a second time. The war that followed was waged in the centre of the island among the hills of the Sicels whom Mago attempted to win over, but Dionysius was vigorously supported by his friend Agyris, the tyrant of Agyrium. This campaign, of which we have few details, ended in Mago suing for peace, perhaps driven to do so by the successful intercepting of his supplies by Agyris and his men, who had the great advantage of knowing the hill-country well. In the treaty that followed, the Sicels were acknowledged to be under Dionysius and there was a special clause giving him Tauromenium, The inhabitants of this town were thus dishonourably abandoned by Carthage who had settled them there. Dionysius lost no time in taking possession of the stronghold. He drove the Sicels out and repeopled it with mercenaries.

 

V. THE ITALIAN WARS OF DIONYSIUS AND HIS LATER WARS WITH CARTHAGE

 

We have already seen that Dionysius, by his attack on Rhegium, had recognized the close connection between the north-east corner of Sicily and the south-east corner of Italy. The Straits of Messina were too narrow to bound his policy or his ambitions. But the control of the straits was his first concern. No sooner had Himilco left Sicily (396) than Dionysius had undertaken the rebuilding of Messana, which the Carthaginian had razed to the ground. He re-peopled it with settlers from the Italian cities of Locri and Medma, and to these he would have added Messenians whom the Spartans had driven out of Greece after the power of their Athenian protectors was broken. But the Spartans were unwilling to see the national spirit of the Messenians thus encouraged, and Dionysius, who had every reason not to offend his allies, settled the Messenian refugees in a new city which he built some thirty miles due west of Messana on the north coast. It was a hill-city called Tyndaris (of which ruins still remain) and it soon became very prosperous. The exiles of Catana and Naxos now proved useful to Rhegium, whose people saw in the foundation of Tyndaris a menace to themselves. They founded as a counter-stroke the town of Mylae on the peninsula of that name, but it was captured almost at once by the Messenians with the help of Syracusan mercenaries.

Now that peace was made with Carthage, Dionysius was in a position to carry out his designs against the Greek cities of Southern Italy. He made Locri, which was always very friendly to him, the base of his operations. He attacked Rhegium by land and sea (390 BC), but the attack failed, as Rhegium called in the help of the confederation of the Italiote cities which had been formed primarily to resist the growing power of the Lucanians. Dionysius escaped with difficulty, and with more logic than phil-hellenisin allied himself with the barbarian Lucanians so that they might together make war on the Italiote cities. In the following year the Lucanians invaded the territory of Thurii and, when the Thurians retorted in kind, inflicted upon them a crushing defeat. Seeing ships coasting along, the escaped Italiotes swam out to them for refuge. It was the Syracusan fleet under Leptines, who, in place of completing the victory, arranged an armistice between the Lucanians and the Italiotes. On hearing of this, Dionysius naturally deprived his brother of his command for exceeding his instructions, and replaced him by another brother, Thearidas (389 BC).

Probably in the same summer Dionysius marched against Caulonia, the neighbour of Locri, and laid siege to the town. He had to face a relieving army of 25,000 foot and 2000 horse which had concentrated at Croton under the command of a Syracusan exile, Heloris. Dionysius, whose own forces were equal to those of the enemy, decided to meet them in open battle. He surprised the enemy's vanguard at dawn near the river Elleporus; Heloris was slain and the main body was defeated as it came up in haste and disorder. With politic clemency Dionysius released his prisoners, not even demanding ransom, although a very considerable sum was lost by this forbearance. The cities of the Italiote league voted golden crowns to the tyrant and withdrew their support from his enemies. Caulonia and Hipponium continued at war, but first one and then the other were taken and destroyed. The inhabitants were transplanted to Syracuse where they became citizens and their territory was given to Locri. Rhegium bought an armistice by the surrender of its fleet and the payment of an indemnity of 300 talents. But Dionysius had not yet finished with Rhegium.

 

ITALIAN CONQUESTS OF DIONYSIUS

 

To hold for himself the Italian side of the Straits of Messina had become to Dionysius a vital interest. In the next year (388 BC) he picked a quarrel with the Rhegines and after holding out for nearly a year, Phyton their brave general was forced to capitulate. Those of the inhabitants who could pay a mina as ransom were freed, the remainder were sold into slavery. Phyton was flogged before the army and drowned with his kinsfolk. The cruelty which Dionysius, contrary to his usual policy, exercised against the Rhegines and their general was due to a long cherished hatred which was explained in antiquity by the following story.

It is said that he asked for a wife to be chosen from among the noble maidens of Rhegium, but they contemptuously refused and added the insult of offering him the hangman's daughter. They had turned Dionysius into a hangman at their own cost.

The Straits of Messina were now firmly held for Syracuse. Croton, the leading Itallote city, was taken eight years later (379 BC), on which occasion he plundered the temple of Hera on the promontory of Lacinium and carried off a famous dress of the goddess which he later sold to the Carthaginians for 120 talents. The Italian power of the tyrant was firmly established.

In close connection with the designs of Dionysius for extending his dominions into Italy were his schemes for controlling the Adriatic, but of these schemes we have the most fragmentary records. He seems to have formed a conception of a Northern Empire for which the Adriatic sea was in some ways what the Pontic sea was for the Athenian Empire. It was bordered by barbarous inhabitants and touched large rivers and unexplored lands. It was the ambition of Dionysius to make his influence supreme in the Adriatic and make it a source of revenue by collecting dues from all ships sailing the Gulf. He wished Syracuse to take the place of Corinth and Corcyra, in whose hands Adriatic enterprise, so far as it went, had chiefly lain. But on the eastern side it went little north of Epidamnus and Apollonia. The great work of Dionysius was to found Issa (Lissa) and Pharos on neighbouring islands; Syracusan colonists were planted on the island of Issa, and Pharos is said to have been a Parian colony under the auspices of Dionysius. On the Italian coast opposite to these islands Syracusan exiles founded Ancona and thus formed a commercial station that proved useful to the plans of the tyrant. There are inscriptions from Issa and Pharos dating from a time soon after their foundation. The Syracusan origin of Issa is illustrated in an Interesting manner by its early coinage, which is Sicilian in character. That Dionysius had a keen eye for strategic positions is shown by the subsequent history of Issa as one of the most important naval stations in the Adriatic Gulf. He does not seem to have penetrated far into the Illyrian hinterland, but he had designs on Epirus and made an alliance with Alcetas of Molossia. Dionysius did great service to Greek merchants by suppressing the brigandage of the Illyrian pirates who infested these waters.

The power of Dionysius reached its high-water mark and the frontiers of his dominions their farthest limit about the year 385 BC. By his conquests in Italy he had acquired nearly the whole of Magna Graecia. With his ally Locri he controlled continuous territory from the Straits of Messina as far north as the river Crathis and his dominion extended round the Tarentine Gulf including Thurii, Heraclea, Metapontum and Tarentum to the heel of Italy where the tribes of lapygia and the Messapians were his dependent allies. He also secured footholds in Apulia and thus had some control of the coast between lapygia and Picenum. On the west side, outside Greek territory, the Lucanians were allied to him. South of the Lucanian frontier he planned to build a wall twenty miles long across the narrow Isthmus from Scylletium (Squillace) to the western sea, but this wall was never built. The power of Dionysius over the towns on the east side extended to the convenient ports of Brundisium (Brindisi) and Hydrus (Otranto) which may be said to have enabled him to control the entry into the Adriatic. Brundisium would be for centuries the most convenient place of embarkation from Italy for Epirote ports, to reach North Greece, Macedonia and Thrace. Nothing shows more strikingly the extent of the prestige of Dionysius, than the fact that in the year of his conquest of Rhegium, which was the same year in which the Gauls captured Rome, an embassy was sent to him by the victorious barbarians offering him an alliance (387 BC). We do not know whether anything definite was contemplated by this alliance, but the Cisalpine Gauls, who were at this moment the strongest military power in Italy, might be of great service to Dionysius in prosecuting his plans on the western coast of the Adriatic from Ancona to the Po and Venetia. These barbarians furnished a new source of supply of mercenaries; we find Dionysius employing Gaulish troops in his later years.

 

SECOND AND THIRD WARS WITH CARTHAGE

 

The tyrant was however soon engaged in a new war (Second War with Carthage 383 BC) the result of which deprived him of some of his gains. He had only just won Croton and the surrounding land when in the west of the island he lost territory. His alliances with some of the dependent cities of his old Punic foe doubtless caused friction. Little is known of the war, but Dionysius won a battle in which Mago was killed and Carthage proposed peace. The tyrant declined to make peace except on the condition that Carthage should evacuate Sicily entirely. A truce was made which gave Carthage time to prepare for a new contest. Mago's son arrived with a large army; a great battle was fought at Cronium, perhaps in 378 BC, in which Dionysius was defeated with enormous slaughter and his brother Leptines was slain. The position was thus entirely reversed, and in the treaty which was now concluded the tyrant had to pay 1000 talents and the frontier between Carthage and Syracuse was fixed by the river Halycus, instead of the river Mazarus as it had hitherto been.

Ten years later there broke out the Third War with Carthage (c. 368 BC). The moment was opportune, for once again pestilence was raging in Africa and many of the subjects of Carthage were in revolt. Dionysius led a new expedition into the west of Sicily 30,000 foot, 3000 horse, 300 triremes. He won back Selinus and Campanian Entella. He also captured Eryx and occupied its harbour Drepanum (Trapani) which served as his naval base for besieging Lilybaeum. His first brilliant military success against Carthage thirty years before had been the siege of Motya. The siege of Motya's successor Lilybaeum was his last military operation against the Punic foe, but it was not to be a success. He was obliged to raise the siege and then the Carthaginians surprised and seized his fleet in the haven of Drepanum.

 

RELATIONS OF DIONYSIUS WITH EASTERN GREECE

 

Throughout his reign Dionysius was the ally of Sparta. He was helped by Sparta to establish his tyranny at the very outset, and both states found the alliance to be to their mutual advantage. After the fall of Athens Sparta departed from her old well-known tradition of opposing tyrannies, and in exercising her own tyranical hegemony she had no objection to coming to terms with tyrants. We do not know in what year the formal alliance was concluded, but at some stage Lysander himself doubtless did much to cement the friendship, since we know that he visited Syracuse. He must have been deeply impressed by the magnificent fortifications of the vast city, the largest he had seen, and not less by the great naval armaments of Dionysius. The Greek world had been watching with interest the growth of the military power of the tyrant of Syracuse as shown in his war with Carthage. The Athenian Assembly passed a decree in honour of Dionysius and of his brothers Leptines and Thearidas, and of his brother-in-law Polyxenus. The power of the tyrant of Syracuse aided Sparta to impose the King's Peace upon the Greek States and in 387-6 he sent to their aid twenty triremes which appeared at Abydos. The knowledge that his resources were behind Sparta may have induced some of the unwilling Greek States to accept the Peace. At the preceding Olympic festival (388 BC) Dionysius had arranged to play an important part, he sent a magnificent embassy, his chariots were to compete in the races and some of his poems were to be recited. But the Hellenic spirit had been aroused by the speech of Lysias, and the envoys from Syracuse were not allowed to sacrifice and their tents were attacked. The Athenian orator denounced the tyrant and expressed his amazement that Sparta overlooked and tolerated the injuries which he inflicted on Greeks both in Sicily and in Italy. Lysias spoke bitterly, for he himself had Syracusan ancestors and his father had been a citizen of Thurii. The chariots of Syracuse were allowed to compete but won no prize, and the crowd refused to hear the poems of Dionysius.

Fourteen years later Dionysius at least promised help to Sparta; in 369 he sent troops to Corinth to help in the campaign against the Thebans; the last time we hear of him helping his ally Sparta was in the spring of 367, on the occasion of a minor victory of Archidamus over the Arcadians known as the tearless battle. Shortly before this (368) we find the Athenians passing a decree in honour of Dionysius and his sons, and in the following year, 367 BC, an alliance was made between Athens and the tyrant. This was the last year of the life of Dionysius.

 

VI. DEATH OF DIONYSIUS. 367 B.C.

 

In the days of Dionysius Syracuse was not a centre of attraction for famous poets such as those who came to the court of Hiero, and heralded abroad his virtues and magnificence and the fame of his exploits, but still the court of Dionysius had some literary pretensions. The tyrant himself was interested in the new dithyrambic poetry then coming into vogue and known to us by the Persians of Timotheus of Miletus which was discovered in recent years. Another proficient in this style of poetry was Philoxenus of Cythera who came to Syracuse to reside at the court. Dionysius also wrote tragedies which gained second and third prizes in the Athenian theatre, but he was always longing and hoping for a first prize. At home he gained little sympathy with his poetical efforts; the fact is his 'bad poems' were almost proverbial. But Dionysius was inordinately sensitive as to their merits. Philoxenus obstinately refused to praise them, and it is said that the tyrant sent him to languish in the stone quarries. So the story runs, with the amusing sequel that when received again at court Philoxenus, being pressed for his opinion on a new poem of the tyrant, answered by beckoning to an officer with the words "back to the quarries". His ready wit gained him forgiveness.

Exceptions to the dearth of distinguished visitors in Syracuse were two famous pupils of Socrates, Aristippus the Cyrenaic and Plato. The dealing of Dionysius with Plato was not to his honor. It is not certain why Plato undertook a journey to western Greece (3898 BC), but he did not miss the opportunity of seeing a tyrant's court from within. We do not know what passed between them, but Dionysius was not attracted by the philosopher, who most certainly would not have flattered him. So he packed him on board a Spartan vessel which conveyed him to Aegina, where a Spartan fleet was stationed at the time. There he was sold in the slave-market, but was ransomed by a friend from Cyrene for 20 minae.

There was, however, one in the court circle of whom Syracuse had more reason to be proud than of any of the distinguished strangers who visited her. This was a son of her own; the historian Philistus, who as a writer of military history seems not unworthy to have been a contemporary of Thucydides. He was one of the richest men in Syracuse, and he had shown his great faith in the ultimate success of Dionysius as we have seen. He had been one of the most intimate and trusted counsellors of Dionysius and had married his niece, daughter of Leptines, but in the end he quarrelled with his master and lived in banishment till the tyrant's death. He seems to have spent his exile somewhere on the coast of the Adriatic and there is some evidence which connects him with Hadria. During his exile he composed a history of the reign of Dionysius in which we are told that he omitted the worst deeds of the tyrant and flattered him, hoping to be recalled. In the next reign he was able to return to Syracuse and he became admiral of the fleet.

In the same year that Dionysius had to face the failure of his military operations at Lilybaeum and the loss of his fleet, he was surprised and consoled by the news from Athens that his tragedy "The Ransom of Hector" had been awarded a first prize at the Lenaean festival. It has of course been suggested that the Athenian judges were influenced by political considerations in view of the fact that an alliance with the tyrant was being negotiated at the time. But however poor the drama of Dionysius may have been, it is difficult to believe that it would have been awarded the prize at Athens if he had not some mastery of technique and could not write correct verses. Overjoyed at this long delayed triumph he celebrated his victory with an unwonted intemperance. He was stricken down by a fever and his death is attributed to the effects of a soporific.

 

ESTIMATE OF DIONYSIUS

 

One of the most prominent features in the age of Dionysius was the growth of the employment of mercenaries throughout the Greek world and neighbouring states. By no one was this practice so consistently and extensively adopted as by the tyrant of Syracuse. Both his own power and the strength of his city depended on foreign troops. We cannot even guess at the amount of the budget of Dionysius, but it is clear that one of the largest and most constant item of expense was the maintenance of his mercenary forces, Italians (Campanians), Iberians, Gauls, and soldiers from the Peloponnese, The extensive fortifications of Syracuse must have been a severe drain on the resources of the city, and also the maintenance of the navy. To meet these expenses the citizens of Syracuse were heavily taxed, and in some cases the levy amounted to confiscation. In five years' time a citizen's whole capital could be paid away in taxes. A cattle tax was imposed that made the owners prefer to slaughter their beasts rather than pay it. The tyrant levied exceptionally heavy war-taxes, and he made himself guardian of all orphans. Much money was gained from the spoils of war such as the military success at Motya, the sale of conquered peoples as slaves, in other cases their ransoms; and the sacrilegious plunder of temples became a constant source of income to Dionysius. He made an attack on the Etruscans which had the plunder of the rich temple at Agylla as its real object, out of which he gained 1500 talents. He even planned an attack on the Temple at Delphi aided by Illyrians, but this scheme was prevented from being realized by the Spartans. Besides these violent expedients for raising money Dionysius also resorted to methods almost as disreputable, amongst which, it is alleged, was the depreciation of the Syracusan coinage. We are told that on one occasion he placed a mark on coins making them count as double their proper value.

Under the rule of Dionysius Syracuse far exceeded the natural bounds of a Greek city-state; indeed the policy of the tyrant enouraged her growth, until Syracuse was probably the most populous city in the Hellenic world, and may be compared with the Antioch and Alexandria of a later age. His statecraft went beyond the parochial bounds of neighbouring hatreds and friendships. Syracuse became more than the leading city of Sicily; she became a continental power, and not only established colonies on the mainland to which her island geographically belonged, but made herself felt in lands beyond the Adriatic. This empire, though retaining old constitutional forms, was really a military monarchy. The ruler and his army were the state; the policy of the ruler was personal, the sentiments of the army were professional. With Dionysius came in, as has been said, innovations in the arts of war which were to have a profound influence on the history of the Macedonian monarchies of which his rule was the forerunner. Some of his military operations, for instance the siege of Motya, remind us of those of Alexander. He also, like the Spartan Lysander, anticipated the custom of deification.

Apart from his significance for the future, Dionysius owes his prominence in history to the fact that in spite of his occasionally vacillating policy, he was a remarkably successful champion of Europe against the Semite. At long intervals Carthage produced talented generals and displayed her ambition, and in the last decade of the fifth century and the first decade of the fourth the revived ambition of Carthage was served by men of marked capacity. This dangerous conjunction Dionysius faced with success. Although it was left for the Romans finally to win Sicily for Europe and expel the Carthaginians completely, still Dionysius had in fact almost achieved this. But though the tyrant saved the Greeks in saving himself, he was not interested in the development of Hellenic civilization. We see him destroying Hellenic cities and founding Italian communities in their place. Where policy demanded it, he did not scruple to ally himself with Lucanians and Gauls against the Greek cities of Italy. Little as Dionysius can have foreseen it, his Italian policy marks an early stage in the reaction which was to end in the Italian conquest of Sicily more than a century later.

Dionysius stands out as the ablest and most important Greek statesman between Pericles of Athens and Philip of Macedon. By the originality of his ideas and the daring of his schemes he stands apart from all the rulers of his time and was the pioneer of a new age in which the conditions of the world would be transformed. So far as we know, he asked for little advice and help in his more important acts and we hear seldom of his official counsellors. We may suspect that he often asked and took the advice of Philistus, but there is no reason for thinking that this friend guided his policy or originated any of the plans by which he amazed or dismayed his contemporaries. As an unconstitutional monarch he was able to accomplish much which would have been impossible for a statesman in a constitutionally governed Greek state; but for his tyranny, his reputation suffered. He was execrated in Sicily and Italy; and in old Greece he was considered by public opinion to be a scourge of the Greek world and even after his death his claims to greatness were never, or never fully, realized.