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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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