previous next

Hieron I.

Ἱέρων), tyrant of SYRACUSE, was son of Deinomenes and brother of Gelon, whom lie succeeded in the sovereignty, B. C. 478. We know scarcely any thing of his personal history previous to his accession, except that he supported his brother in his various wars, and appears to Have taken an active part in the great victory of Himera, as his share in the glory of that day was commemorated by Gelon himself in the inscription at Delphi which recorded his triumph. (Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. 1.155, 2.115.) It is stated by Diodorus (11.38) that Hieron was appointed by Gelon as his successor, though it appears from other authorities that that prince left an infant son ; hence it may well be suspected that he assumed the government in the first instance only in his nephew's name, and subsequently took possession of it for himself. In either case it is clear that he was virtually sovereign of Syracuse from the time of Gelon's death, but his rule was soon distinguished from that of his brother by its greater severity and more tyrannical character. Its tranquillity was early disturbed by his jealousy of his brother Polyzelus, to whom Gelon had left the command of the army and the hand of his widow Demarete. This connection secured to Polyzelus the powerful support of Theron of Agrigentum (the father of Demarete), and, united with his great popularity, sufficed to render him an object of suspicion to Hieron. The latter is said to have emeloyed him in a military expedition against the Sybarites in Italy, or, according to another account, in Sicily itself, in hopes that he might perish in the war. The failure of this design led to an open rupture between the two brothers, and Polyzelus took refuge with Theron, who is said to have been preparing to support him by arms, when a reconciliation was effected, and a treaty of peace concluded between him and Hieron, which is attributed by some accounts to the intervention of the poet Simonides. (Schol. ad Pind. Ol. 2.29, 37.) According to Diodorus (11.48), on the contrary, it was owing to the conduct of Hieron himself, who, instead of listening to the overtures of the citizens of Himera, and espousing their cause against Theron, gave him information of their designs; in gratitude for which, Theron abandoned his hostile intentions. By the treaty thus concluded, Polyzelus was restored to his former position at Syracuse, while Hieron himself married a sister of the Agrigentine ruler. (Schol. ad Pind. l.c.

Our information concerning the events of the of Hieron is very imperfect, but the detached and fragmentary notices which alone remain to us attest the great power and influence that he must have possessed. In Sicily he made himself master of the powerful cities of Naxos and Catana, the inhabitants of which, according to a favourite policy of the Sicilian tyrants, he removed from native seats, and established them at Leontini, , while he repeopled Catana with Syracusans, and other colonists of Dorian origin; and having changed its name to Aetna, caused himself to be proclaimed the founder of the new city. (Diod. 11.49; Schol. ad Pind. Ol. 1.35, Pyth. 1.1, 120.) At a very early period of his reign also we find him interposing in the affairs of the Greek cities in the south of Italy, and preventing the destruction of Locri by Anaxilas of Rhegium, which he appears to have effected by the mere apprehension of his without having actually recourse to arms. (Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. 1.98, 2.34.) Some years later he again interfered on behalf of the sons of the same Anaxilas, and by urging them to put forward ward their claim to the sovereign power, succeeded in effecting the expulsion of Micythus from Rhegium (Diod. 11.66.) The death of Theron in B. C. 472, and the violence of his son Thrasydaeus, involved Hieron in hostilities with Agrigentum, but he defeated Thrasydaeus in a great battle, which contributed essentially to the downfal of that tyrant; and after his expulsion Hieron was readily induced to grant peace to the Agrigentines. (Diod. 11.53.) But by far the most important event of his reign was the great victory which he obtained over the Etruscan fleet near Cumae (B. C. 474), and which appears to have effectually broken the naval power of that nation. The Etruscans had attacked Cumae and the neighbouring Greek settlement in Campania with a powerful fleet, and the Cumaeans invoked the assistance of Hieron, who, though suffering at the time from illness, appears^ to have commanded in person the fleet which he destined to their support. (Pind. P. 1.137 ; and Schol. ad loc. ; Diod. 11.51.) Of the victory he there obtained, and which was celebrated by Pindar, an interesting memorial has been preserved to our own days, in a bronze helmet found at Olympia in 1817, and now in the British Museum, which appears from the inscription it bears to have formed part of the spoils consecrated by Hieron on this occasion to the Olympian Zeus. (Rose, Inscr. Graec. Vetust. p. 66; Boeckh's Pindar, vol. iii. p. 225.) It was probably after this victory that he sent the colony to Pithecusa or Ischia, mentioned by Strabo (v. p.248.)

How far the internal prosperity of Syracuse, under the rule of Hieron, corresponded with this external show of power we have no means of judging, but all accounts agree in representing his government as much more despotic than that of Gelon. He fortified his power by the maintenance of a large guard of mercenary troops, and evinced the suspicious character of a tyrant by the employment of numerous spies and informers. (Arist. Pol. 5.11; Diod. 11.48, 67; but comp. Plut. dc Ser. Num. Vied. p. 551.) In one respect, ever has superior to his brother--in the liberal and enlightened patronage that he extended to men of letters, which has contributed very much to cast a lustre over his name. His court became the resort of the most distinguished poets and philosophers of the day. Aeschylus, Pindar, and Bacchylides are recorded as having taken up their abode with him, and we find him associating in friendly intercourse with Xenophanes, Epicharmus, and Simonides. (Ael. VH 4.15; Paus. 1.2.3; Schol. atd Pind. Plyh. 2.131, 167; Athen. 3.121, xiv. p. 656; Plut. Apophth. p. 175.) His intimacy with the latter was particularly celebrated (Pseud. Plat. Epist. 2), and has been made the subject by Xenophon of an imaginary dialogue entitled the Hieron (Xen. Opp. tom. v. ed. Schneider), but, from the advice there put into the mouth of the philosopher, as well as from the hints interspersed by Pindar, in the midst of his praises and flatteries, we may gather that there was much to disapprove of in the conduct of Hieron towards his subjects and dependants. (See Boeckh, ad Pind. Pyth. 1.81-88.) His love of magnificence was especially displayed, as was the custom of the day, in the great contests of the Grecian games, and his victories at Olympia and Delphi have been immortalised by Pindar. He also sent, in imitation of his brother Gelon, splendid offerings to the sanctuary at Delphi. (Paus. 6.12.1; Athen. 6.231, 232.)

We are told that Hieron was afflicted during the latter years of his life by the stone, and that painful malady was probably the cause of his death, which took place at Catana, in the twelfth year of his reign, B. C. 467. (Schol. ad Pind. Ol. 1.1, Pyth. 1.89, 3.1; Plut. de Pyth. Orac. 19; Diod. 11.38, 66.) Aristotle, indeed, says that he reigned only ten years (Pol. 5.12), but the dates of Diodorus, which are consistent with one another, are confirmed by the scholiast on Pindar, and have been justly preferred by Clinton (F. H. vol. ii. p. 38, 267). He was interred with much pomp at Catana, and obtained heroic honours as the new founder of that city, but his tomb was subsequently destroyed by the old inhabitants, when they returned thither, after the expulsion of the Aetnaean colonists. (Diod. 11.66; Strab. vi. p.268.) He had one son, Deinomenes, by his first wife, a daughter of Nicocles, a Syracusan : by his subsequent marriage with the sister of Theron already mentioned he left no issue. (Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. 1.112.) The scholiast here calls her the cousin (ἀνεψία) of Theron, but she is elsewhere repeatedly termed his sister (ad Ol. 2.29, 37).


hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
478 BC (1)
474 BC (1)
472 BC (1)
467 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: