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It is not out of keeping with the present narrative to recount the cause of his death and the events which befell this dynast toward the end of his life. Now Dionysius had produced a tragedy at the Lenaea1 at Athens2 and had won the victory, and one of those who sang in the chorus, supposing that he would be rewarded handsomely if he were the first to give news of the victory, set sail to Corinth. There, finding a ship bound for Sicily, he transferred to it, and obtaining favouring winds, speedily landed at Syracuse and gave the tyrant news of the victory. [2] Dionysius did reward him, and was himself so overjoyed that he sacrificed to the gods for the good tidings and instituted a drinking bout and great feasts. As he entertained his friends lavishly and during the bout applied himself overzealously to drink, he fell violently ill from the quantity of liquor he had consumed. [3] Now he had an oracle the gods had given him that he should die when he had conquered "his betters," but he interpreted the oracle as referring to the Carthaginians, assuming that these were "his betters." So in the wars that he had many times waged against them he was accustomed to withdraw in the hour of victory and accept defeat willingly, in order that he might not appear to have proved himself "better" than the stronger foe. [4] For all that, however, he could not in the end by his chicanery outwit the destiny Fate had in store for him; on the contrary, though a wretched poet and though judged on this occasion in a competition at Athens,3 he defeated "better" poets than himself. So in verbal consistency with the decree of the oracle he met his death as a direct consequence of defeating "his betters." [5]

Dionysius the younger on his succession to the tyranny first gathered the populace in an assembly and urged them in appropriate words to maintain toward him the loyalty that passed to him with the heritage that he had received from his father; then, having buried his father with magnificent obsequies in the citadel by the gates called royal, he made secure for himself the administration of the government.

1 The "Wine Press Festival" of January or February at which both comedies and tragedies were presented. By unanimous consent (see Niese, P.-W. Realencyclopädie, 5.901 top for references) the poetry of Dionysius was wretched and boring, but he never ceased to aspire. For one humiliating experience see Book 14.109. See also Book 15.6. The name of the play presented on this occasion was the Ransom of Hector (Nauck, Trag. gr. fr. (2), 794).

2 It is to be noted that Athens was now, through Sparta, an ally of Dionysius I. (Xen. Hell. 7.1.28-29.) Athens honoured Dionysius and his sons with public praises and crowns in 369/8. See Hicks and Hill, Greek Historical Inscriptions (3), 108. For the formal alliance see ibid. 112. See also Bury, Cambridge Ancient History, 6.134 and 132.

3 Though Diodorus has just said above that Dionysius was producing at Athens (sect. 1), he seems by his repetition to wish to stress the fact that the judgement was rendered by the most critical and authoritative city of the time.

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