Now, Dion was a brother of Aristomache, and at first was honoured because of his sister; afterwards, however, he gave proof of his wisdom, and was presently beloved by the tyrant for his own sake. In addition to all his other favours, Dionysius ordered his treasurers to give Dion whatever he asked, although they were to tell Dionysius on the same day what they had given. But though Dion was even before of a lofty character, magnanimous, and manly, he advanced still more in these high qualities when, by some divine good fortune, Plato came to Sicily.1
This was not of man's devising, but some heavenly power, as it would seem, laying far in advance of the time a foundation for the liberty of Syracuse, and devising a subversion of tyranny, brought Plato from Italy to Syracuse and made Dion his disciple. Dion was then quite young, but of all the companions of Plato he was by far the quickest to learn and the readiest to answer the call of virtue, as Plato himself has written,2
and as events testify.
For though he had been reared in habits of submission under a tyrant, and though he was fully accustomed to a life that was subservient and timorous, as well as to ostentatious service at court and vulgar luxury and a regimen that counts pleasures and excesses as the highest good, nevertheless, as soon as he got a taste of a rational philosophy which led the way to virtue, his soul was speedily on fire; and since he very artlessly and impulsively expected, from his own ready obedience to the call of higher things, that the same arguments would have a like persuasive force with Dionysius, he earnestly set to work and at last brought it to pass that the tyrant, in a leisure hour, should meet Plato and hear him discourse.