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When Agathocles was archon at Athens, the Romans elected as consuls Marcus Fabius and Gaius Poplius. During their term of office, Dion son of Hipparinus sailed to Sicily intending to overthrow the tyranny of Dionysius, and with slenderer resources than those of any conqueror before his time he succeeded contrary to all expectation in overthrowing the greatest realm in all Europe. [2] Who, indeed, would have believed that, putting ashore with two2 merchantmen, he could actually have overcome the despot who had at his disposal four hundred ships3 of war, infantry numbering nearly one hundred thousand, ten thousand horse, and as great a store of arms, food, and money as one in all probability possessed who had to maintain lavishly the aforesaid forces; and, apart from all we have mentioned, had a city which was the largest of the cities of Hellas, and harbours and docks and fortified citadels4 that were impregnable, and, besides, a great number of powerful allies? [3] The cause for Dion's successes was, above all others, his own nobility of spirit, his courage, and the willing support of those who were to be liberated, but still more important than all these were the pusillanimity of the tyrant and his subjects' hatred of him; for when all these characteristics merged at a single critical moment, they unexpectedly brought to a successful close deeds which were considered impossible. [4]

But we must forgo these reflections and turn to the detailed narrative of the events as they severally occurred. Dion, having sailed from Zacynthos, which lies by Cephallenia, with two merchantmen, put in at the harbour of Acragas named Minoa. This had been founded of olden time by Minos, king of the Cretans, on the occasion when, in his search for Daedalus, he had been entertained by Cocalus, king of the Sicanians,5 but in the period with which we are concerned this city was subject to the Carthaginians, and its governor, named Paralus,6 who was a friend of Dion, received him enthusiastically. [5] Dion, having unloaded from the merchantmen five thousand suits of armour, handed them over to Paralus and requested him to transport them on wagons to Syracuse, while he himself, taking along the mercenaries7 numbering a thousand, led them against Syracuse. On the march he persuaded the peoples of Acragas, Gela, and some of the Sicanians and Sicels who dwelt in the interior, also the people of Camarina, to join in the liberation of the Syracusans, and then advanced to overthrow the tyrant. [6] Since many men with their arms streamed in from all sides, soon more than twenty thousand soldiers were gathered. Likewise many also of the Greeks from Italy and of the Messenians were summoned, and all came in haste with great enthusiasm.8

1 357/6 B.C.

2 Confirmed by Plut. Dion 25.1. The port was Heracleia Minoa, halfway between Acragas and Selinus (see below, sect. 4).

3 Confirmed by chap. 70.3; Plut. Dion 14.2; Aelian Varia Historia 6.12. Nepos Dion 5.3 gives "quingentis longis navibus."

4 Of Ortygia and Epipolae, the work of Dionysius I. See Book 14.7.1-3, 5; and Book 14.18 for these and other constructions.

5 For this myth see Book 4.77-79. There is no mention of "founding" Minoa in chap. 79.

6 Plut. Dion 25-26.3, gives a more detailed account of Dion's voyage and his landing at Minoa. Synalus (Plut. Dion 25.5) is there the name given to the Carthaginian commander, Dion's friend. It is very possible that Carthage favoured Dion's project since it gave every indication of weakening the military power of Syracuse (see Beloch, Griechische Geschichte (2), 3.1.258).

7 These seem to be the mercenaries he had brought, not new ones (see chap. 6.5).

8 See the account in Plut. Dion 26-27 and Hackforth, Cambridge Ancient History, 6.278.

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hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (7):
    • Cornelius Nepos, Dion, 5.3
    • Plutarch, Dion, 14.2
    • Plutarch, Dion, 25.5
    • Plutarch, Dion, 25
    • Plutarch, Dion, 25.1
    • Plutarch, Dion, 26
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 6.12
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