At this meeting the general subject was human virtue, and most of the discussion turned upon manliness. And when Plato set forth that tyrants least of all men had this quality, and then, treating of justice, maintained that the life of the just was blessed, while that of the unjust was wretched, the tyrant, as if convicted by his arguments, would not listen to them, and was vexed with the audience because they admired the speaker and were charmed by his utterances.
At last he got exceedingly angry and asked the philosopher why he had come to Sicily. And when Plato said that he was come to seek a virtuous man, the tyrant answered and said:
‘Well, by the gods, it appears that you have not yet found such an one.’ Dion thought that this was the end of his anger, and as Plato was eager for it, sent him away upon a trireme, which was conveying Pollis the Spartan to Greece.
But Dionysius privily requested Pollis to kill Plato on the voyage, if it were in any way possible, but if not, at all events to sell him into slavery; for he would take no harm, but would be quite as happy, being a just man, even if he should become a slave. Pollis, therefore, as we are told, carried Plato to Aegina and there sold him; for the Aeginetans were at war with the Athenians and had made a decree that any Athenian taken on the island should be put up for sale.
In spite of all this, Dion stood in no less honour and credit with Dionysius than before, but had the management of the most important embassies, as, for instance, when he was Bent to Carthage and won great admiration.
The tyrant also bore with his freedom of speech, and Dion was almost the only one who spoke his mind fearlessly, as, for example, when he rebuked Dionysius for what he said about Gelon. The tyrant was ridiculing the government of Gelon,1
and when he said that Gelon himself, true to his name, became the laughing-stock
‘gelos’) of Sicily, the rest of his hearers pretended to admire the joke, but Dion was disgusted and said:
‘Indeed, thou art now tyrant because men trusted thee for Gelon's sake; but no man hereafter will be trusted for thy sake.’ For, as a matter of fact, Gelon seems to have made a city under absolute rule a very fair thing to look upon, but Dionysius a very shameful thing.