previous next

In Sicily1 the Syracusans, who were engaged in civil strife and were forced to live as slaves under many varied tyrannies, sent ambassadors to Corinth with the request that the Corinthians should dispatch to them as general a man who would administer their city and curb the ambitions of those who aimed to become tyrants. [2] The Corinthians, concluding that it was only right to assist people who were offshoots of themselves,2 voted to send as general Timoleon, son of Timaenetus, a man of highest prestige amongst his fellow citizens for bravery and sagacity as a general and, in a word, splendidly equipped with every virtue. A peculiar coincidence befell him which contributed toward his being chosen to the generalship. [3] Timophanes, his brother, a man of outstanding wealth and effrontery amongst the Corinthians, had for some time past been clearly aiming at a tyranny and at the moment was winning the poor to his cause and laying up a store of suits of armour and parading about the market-place accompanied by a band of ruffians, not actually claiming to be tyrant but practising the arts of tyranny. [4] Timoleon, who was much averse to the rule of one man, first attempted to dissuade his brother from his overt attempt, but when the latter refused to heed and continued all the more his headstrong career, Timoleon, being unable by reasoning with him to make him mend his ways, put him to death as he was promenading in the market-place.3 [5] A scuffle ensued and a mob of citizens came surging up stirred by the surprising character and the enormity of the deed, and dissension broke out. One side claimed that as the perpetrator of a kin-murder Timoleon should receive the punishment prescribed by the laws, whereas the other party asserted just the opposite, that they should applaud him as a tyrannicide. [6] When the senate met to deliberate in the council chamber and the matter in dispute was referred to the session, Timoleon's personal enemies denounced him, while those more favourably inclined rallied to his cause and counselled letting him go free. [7] While the investigation was still unsettled there sailed into the harbour from Syracuse the ambassadors who, having made known their mission to the senate, requested them to dispatch with all speed the general they needed. [8] The session accordingly voted to send Timoleon and, in order to ensure the success of the project, they proposed a strange and amazing alternative to him. They affirmed categorically that if he ruled the Syracusans fairly, they adjudged him a tyrannicide, but if too ambitiously, a murderer of his brother.4 [9] Timoleon, not so much in fear of the threat imposed on him by the senate as because of his native virtue, administered the government in Sicily fairly and profitably. For he subdued in war the Carthaginians, restored to their original state the Greek cities which had been razed by the barbarians, and made all Sicily independent; in a word, having found Syracuse and the other Greek cities depopulated when he took them over, he made them notably populous.

These matters, however, we shall record severally below in their proper periods; now we shall return to the thread of our narrative.

1 Last mentioned chap. 45.9.

2 Syracuse was a Corinthian colony founded in 734.

3 According to Plutarch the murder of Timophanes (not by Timoleon's own hand) occurred about twenty years before Timoleon's departure for Syracuse. Diodorus' account should be compared with Plutarch's and Nepos' Timoleon.

4 Plut. Timoleon 7.2 puts this in the mouth of one Telecleides speaking before the assembly (δῆμος), not the senate.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1989)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (6 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: