It was about the eleventh month of Dionysius' siege of
Rhegium, and since he had cut off relief from every direction, the inhabitants of the city were
faced by a terrible dearth of the necessities of life. We are told, indeed, that at the time a
medimnus of wheat among the Rhegians cost five minas.1
So reduced were they by lack of food that at first they ate
their horses and other beasts of burden, then fed upon boiled skins and leather, and finally
they would go out from the city and eat the grass near the walls like so many cattle. To such
an extent did the demand of nature compel the wants of man to turn for their satisfaction to
the food of dumb animals.
When Dionysius learned what was
taking place, far from showing mercy to those who were perforce suffering beyond man's
endurance, on the contrary he brought in cattle to clear the place of the green-stuff, with the
result that it was completely stripped.
Rhegians, overcome by their excessive hardships, surrendered their city to the tyrant, giving
him complete power over their lives. Within the city Dionysius found heaps of dead who had
perished from lack of food, and the living too whom he captured were like dead men and weakened
in body. He got together more than six thousand captives and the multitude he sent off to
Syracuse with orders that those who could pay as ransom a mina of silver should be freed, but
to sell as slaves those who were unable to raise that sum.