At first, Dionysius sent envoys privately to Dion and tried to make terms with him; then, when Dion bade him confer publicly with the Syracusans, on the ground that they were a free people, the envoys brought generous propositions from the tyrant, who promised such moderate taxes and easy military service as the people themselves should agree to by vote.
These offers were derided by the Syracusans, and Dion made answer to the envoys that Dionysius was not to confer with them unless he renounced his sovereignty; but on his renouncing this, Dion would himself procure immunity for him, and any other reasonable privilege that was in his power, mindful of the close relationship between them. These conditions Dionysius approved, and again sent envoys, bidding some of the Syracusans to come to the acropolis, where, both parties making concessions, he would confer with them concerning the common good.
Accordingly, men were sent to him whom Dion approved. And frequent reports came to the Syracusans from the citadel that Dionysius would renounce the tyranny, and would do this to please himself rather than Dion.
But this was a treacherous pretence on the part of the tyrant, and a piece of knavery directed against the Syracusans. For he kept in close custody the deputation that came to him from the city, and towards morning plied his mercenaries with strong wine and sent them on a dash against the siege-wall about the acropolis.
The attack was unexpected, and the Barbarians, with great boldness and loud tumult, began to tear down the cross-wall and attack the Syracusans, so that no one dared to stand on the defensive, except the mercenaries of Dion, who first noticed the disturbance and came to the rescue.
And even these knew not how to render aid, nor could they hear what was said to them, owing to the shouts and wild movements of the fugitive Syracusans, who mingled confusedly with them and broke through their ranks. But at last Dion, since no one could hear his orders, wishing to show by his example what should be done charged foremost into the Barbarians.
Then there arose about him a fierce and dreadful battle, since he was recognized by the enemy as well as by his friends, and all rushed towards him at the same time with loud shouts. He was now, by reason of his age, too unwieldy for such struggles, but he withstood and cut down his assailants with vigour and courage until he was wounded in the hand with a lance; besides, his breastplate hardly sufficed to resist the other missiles and hand-to-hand thrusts, and he was smitten through his shield by many spears and lances, and when these were broken off he fell to the ground.
Then, after he had been snatched away by his soldiers, he put Timonides in command of these, while he himself, mounting a horse, rode about the city rallying the flying Syracusans, and bringing up a detachment of his mercenaries who were guarding Achradina, led them against the Barbarians,—fresh and eager reserves against a worn-out foe, and one that already despaired of his cause.
For they had expected at their first onset to overrun and occupy the whole city, and now that they had unexpectedly encountered men who could smite and fight, they retired towards time acropolis. But as they gave ground, the Greeks pressed all the harder upon them, so that they turned their backs and were driven into the shelter of the citadel; they had slain seventy-four of Dion's men, and had lost many of their own number.