Since Dion frequently gave him such advice, and artfully mingled with it some of Plato's doctrines, Dionysius was seized with a keen and even frenzied passion for the teachings and companionship of Plato. At once, then, many letters began to come to Athens from Dionysius, and many injunctions from Dion, as well as others from the Pythagorean philosophers of Italy, all of whom urged Plato to come and get control of a youthful soul now tossed about on a sea of great authority and power, and steady it by his weighty reasonings.
Plato, accordingly, as he tells us himself,1
out of shame more than any thing else, lest men should think him nothing but theory and unwilling to take any action; and further, because he expected that by the purification of one man, who was, as it were, a controlling factor, he would cure all Sicily of her distempers, yielded to these requests.
But the enemies of Dion, afraid of the alteration in Dionysius, persuaded him to recall from exile Philistus, a man versed in letters and acquainted with the ways of tyrants, that they might have in him a counterpoise to Plato and philosophy.
For Philistus at the outset had most zealously assisted in establishing the tyranny, and for a long time was commander of the garrison that guarded the citadel. There was a story, too, that he was very intimate with the mother of the elder Dionysius, and that the tyrant was not wholly ignorant of the fact. But when Leptines, who had two daughters by a woman whom he had corrupted when she was living with another man and then taken to wife, gave one of them to Philistus without so much as telling Dionysius, the tyrant was wroth, put the wife of Leptines into fetters and prison, and banished Philistus from Sicily.
Philistus took refuge with some friends in Adria, and there, it would seem, in his leisure, composed the greater part of his history. For he did not return to Syracuse while the elder Dionysius was alive, but after his death, as I have said, the envy which the other courtiers felt towards Dion brought about his recall; they thought him a more suitable man for their purposes, and a stauncher friend of the tyranny.