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Among the Athenians, for example, thirty men who became tyrants from their own lust of gain, not only involved their native land in great misfortunes but themselves soon lost their power and have bequeathed a deathless memorial of their own disgrace. The Lacedaemonians, after winning for themselves the undisputed sovereignty of Greece, were shorn of it from the moment when they sought to carry out unjust projects at the expense of their allies. For the superiority of those who enjoy leadership is maintained by goodwill and justice, and is overthrown by acts of injustice and by the hatred of their subjects. [2] Similarly Dionysius, the tyrant of the Syracusans, although he has been the most fortunate of such rulers, was incessantly plotted against while alive, was compelled by fear to wear an iron corselet under his tunic, and has bequeathed since his death his own life as an outstanding example unto all ages for the maledictions of men. [3]

But we shall record each one of these illustrations with more detail in connection with the appropriate period of time; for the present we shall take up the continuation of our account, pausing only to define our dates. [4] In the preceding Books we have set down a record of events from the capture of Troy to the end of the Peloponnesian War and of the Athenian Empire, covering a period of seven hundred and seventy-nine years.1 In this Book, as we add to our narrative the events next succeeding, we shall commence with the establishment of the thirty tyrants and stop with the capture of Rome by the Gauls, embracing a period of eighteen years.

1 i.e. from 1184 B.C. to 405 B.C. Athens capitulated in April 404 B.C., but Diodorus' year is the Athenian archon year, in this case July 405 to July 404.

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