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Since Himilcar, after besieging the city for eight months, had taken it shortly before the winter solstice,1 he did not destroy it at once, in order that his forces might winter in the dwellings. But when the misfortune that had befallen Acragas was noised abroad, such fear took possession of the island that of the Sicilian Greeks some removed to Syracuse and others transferred their children and wives and all their possessions to Italy. [2] The Acragantini who had escaped being taken captive, when they arrived in Syracuse, lodged accusations against their generals, asserting that it was due to their treachery that their country had perished. And it so happened that the Syracusans also came in for censure by the rest of the Sicilian Greeks, because, as they charged, they elected the kind of leaders through whose fault the whole of Sicily ran the risk of destruction. [3] Nevertheless, even though an assembly of the people was held in Syracuse and great fears hung over them, not a man would venture to offer any counsel respecting the war. While everyone was at a loss what to do, Dionysius, the son of Hermocrates, taking the floor, accused the generals of betraying their cause to the Carthaginians and stirred up the assemblage to exact punishment of them, urging them not to await the futile procedure prescribed by the laws but to pass judgement upon them at once. [4] And when the archons, in accordance with the laws, laid a fine upon Dionysius on the charge of raising an uproar, Philistus, who later composed his History,2 a man of great wealth, paid the fine and urged Dionysius to speak out whatever he had had in his mind to say. And when Philistus went on to say that if they wanted to fine Dionysius throughout the whole day he would provide the money for him, from then on Dionysius, full of confidence, kept stirring up the multitude, and throwing the assembly into confusion he accused the generals of taking bribes to put the security of the Acragantini in jeopardy. And he also denounced the rest of the most renowned citizens, presenting them as friends of oligarchy. [5] Consequently he advised them to choose as generals not the most influential citizens, but rather those who were the best disposed and most favourable to the people; for the former, he maintained, ruling the citizens as they do in a despotic manner, hold the many in contempt and consider the misfortunes of their country their own source of income, whereas the more humble will do none of such things, since they fear their own weakness.

1 December 22.

2 Of Sicily, in thirteen Books (Cp. infra, chap. 103.3).

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