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A Pythagorean philosopher of Syracuse, united by ties of the firmest friendship to Phintias (not Pythias, as the name is commonly given), another Pythagorean, of the same city. Dionysius, the tyrant, having condemned Phintias to death for conspiring against him, the latter begged that leave might be allowed him to go for a short period to a neighbouring place, in order to arrange some family affairs, and offered to leave one of his friends in the hands of Dionysius as a pledge for his return by an appointed time, and who would be willing, in case Phintias broke his word, to die in his stead. Dionysius, sceptical as to the existence of such friendship, and prompted by curiosity, assented to the arrangement, and Damon took the place of Phintias. The day appointed for the return of the latter arrived, and public expectation was highly excited as to the probable issue of this singular affair. The day drew to a close; no Phintias came; and Damon was in the act of being led to execution, when, of a sudden, the absent friend, who had been detained by unforeseen and unavoidable obstacles, presented himself to the eyes of the admiring crowd and saved the life of Damon. Dionysius was so much struck by this instance of true attachment that he pardoned Phintias, and entreated the two to allow him to share their friendship (Val. Max. iv. 7; De Amic. Mult.).


An Athenian sophist, the teacher of Pericles and perhaps of Socrates (Diog. Laert. ii. 19).

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