The state of affairs in Syracuse, before the expedition of Timoleon into Sicily, was as follows. After Dion had driven out Dionysius the tyrant, he was at once treacherously slain,1
and those who had helped him to free Syracuse were divided among themselves. The city, therefore, was continually exchanging one tyrant for another, and owing to a multitude of ills was almost abandoned, while as for the rest of Sicily, part of it was ruined and already wholly without inhabitants by reason of the wars,
and most of the cities were occupied by Barbarians of mixed races and soldiers out of employment, who readily consented to the successive changes in the despotic power. At last Dionysius, in the tenth year of his exile,2
collected mercenaries, drove out Nisaeus; who was at that time master of Syracuse, recovered the power again, and established himself as tyrant anew; he had been unaccountably deprived by a small force of the greatest tyranny that ever was, and now more unaccountably still he had become, from a lowly exile, master of those who drove him forth.
Accordingly, those of the Syracusans who remained in the city were the slaves of a tyrant who at all times was unreasonable, and whose spirit at this time was rendered altogether savage by misfortunes, but the best and most distinguished of them had recourse to Hicetas the ruler of Leontini, put themselves under his protection, and chose him their general for the war; not that he was better than any acknowledged tyrant, but because they had no other refuge, and felt confidence in one who was a Syracusan by birth and possessed a force that was able to cope with that of Dionysius.