Dionysius, terror-stricken at the revolt of the
Syracusans, broke off the siege and hastened to Syracuse, being eager to secure the city. Upon
his flight those who had revolted chose as generals the men who had slain the commander, and
gathering to their number the cavalry from Aetne, they pitched a camp facing the tyrant on the
height called Epipolae, and blocked his passage to the countryside.
And they at once dispatched ambassadors to the Messenians and the Rhegians, urging
these people to join in the bid for freedom by action at sea; for it had been the practice of
these cities at this time to man no less than eighty triremes. These triremes the cities
dispatched at that time to the Syracusans, being eager to support them in the cause of freedom.
The revolters also proclaimed a large reward to any who would
slay the tyrant and promised citizenship to any mercenaries who would come over to them. They
also constructed engines of war with which to shatter and destroy the walls, launched daily
assaults upon the Island, and kindly received any of the mercenaries who came over to them.
Dionysius, being shut off as
he now was from access to the countryside and constantly being abandoned by the mercenaries,
gathered together his friends to counsel with them on the situation; for he had so completely
despaired of maintaining his tyrannical power that he no longer was studying how to defeat the
Syracusans but rather how to meet death in such a way as to end his rule not altogether
Now Heloris, one of his friends, or, as some
say, his adopted father, declared to him, "Tyranny is a fair winding-sheet"; but Polyxenus, his
brother-in-law, advised him to use his swiftest horse and ride off into the domain of the
Carthaginians to the Campanians, whom Himilcon had left behind to guard the districts of
Sicily. Philistus, however, who composed his history after these events, declared in opposition
to Polyxenus that it was not fitting to dash from the tyranny on a galloping horse but to be
cast out, dragged by the leg.1
Dionysius agreed with Philistus and decided to submit to
anything rather than abandon the throne of his free will. Consequently he sent ambassadors to
those in revolt and urged them to allow him and his companions to leave the city, while he
secretly dispatched messengers to the Campanians and promised them any price they should ask
for the duration of the siege.