Study Notes prepared for the AmblesideOnline Curriculum by Anne White, 2014 using Thomas North's text. If you wish to use this Study Guide as a teacher's edition, text-only version of this Life (without the Study Guide) is also available to print for your student. Read Intro to these study guides here.
Introduction to Plutarch's Life of Timoleon
For those who have read Plutarch's Life of Dion, this story picks up where that one ended, in Syracuse, in the 4th century B.C. Syracuse was a Corinthian colony on the island of Sicily, "the most important Hellenic [Greek] city outside Greece" (Philip's World History Encyclopedia). At this time, Syracuse was ruled by tyrant kings, most recently the cruel Dionysius the Elder and his son, Dionysius the Younger. This is what Philip's World History Encyclopedia says about Dionysius the Younger, and it sums up part of the story of Timoleon as well:
"Plato and Dion of Syracuse . . . tried to mould him into the model philosopher-king. Dionysius, however, quickly adopted the tyrannical tactics of his father and banished his tutors. In 357 B.C. he was defeated by Dion and fled into exile. Dionysius returned to power after the murder of Dion (c. 354). In 344 the citizens of Syracuse appealed to Corinth for help in expelling Dionysius. An army led by Timoleon forced him to surrender and flee for Corinth."
Structure of the Story
The structure of Timoleon is a little confusing at first. Plutarch begins the story at the point where the Syracusans appeal Corinth for help; and only then does he introduce Timoleon, "son of Timodemus, who had long absented himself from public business, and had neither any thoughts of, nor the least pretensions to, an employment of that nature [leading the expedition against Dionysius]." (Dryden's translation) We then get a long flashback to the story of Timoleon and his brother Timophanes, a public shame and scandal which had taken place about twenty years previously, and which "so shattered and broke his spirits, that for the space of almost twenty years he hd not offered to concern himself in any honorable or public action." He was exhorted . . . almost taunted . . . into taking up the challenge; and from that time on, he became famous "not only for [his] virtues, but for success."
These notes will are based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, with a few Dryden clarifications in [brackets]. The text is included in each lesson. I have updated some of the spelling. North spells the name of the ruler of the Leontines as Icetes, but Dryden uses Hicetes, and I have used Dryden's spelling. North prefers Syracusa, but I have changed it to Syracuse since that is its more common name now; I have also changed Hippo to Hippon. If you prefer the older versions, go ahead and change them back..
Using These Notes
The story will be divided into twelve lessons. For each lesson I will suggest some introductory comments and sometimes give a summary of the events (this is something Charlotte Mason's teachers did). Another thing that PNEU teachers did was to write the proper names of the main characters on the blackboard before the reading; if you don't have a blackboard, a piece of paper would work just as well. Any really difficult words could be defined for the student ahead of time so that the reading doesn't need to be interrupted; and places that will come up can be found on a map.
After the reading, the student(s) can narrate either right away or after brief comments by the parent/teacher. I will suggest some narration questions and discussion or writing topics; you can pick and choose from them.
Do take a short time at the beginning to find out what is already known about places such as Corinth, Sicily and Carthage, and, if the story of Dion was read previously, what the students remember from that.
Today you are going to hear the first part of the story of Timoleon of Corinth, without hearing one word about him. Plutarch is busy setting the stage and bringing in supporting characters. But Timoleon does not come onstage until he is needed . . . and that's what this first section is about, showing exactly why he is needed at this time in history.
Some of the people you are introduced to are Dionysius, the in-again-out-again-in-again tyrant king of Syracuse (a colony in Sicily, sometimes spelled Syracusa); Hicetes, the double-dealing ruler of the Leontines; the Carthaginians, who see a weak colony and an opportunity for invasion; and the Corinthians, who founded the city of Syracuse and should be expected to help fight off attackers.
repaired: took themselves
Section to Read:
Before Timoleon was sent into Sicily, thus stood the state of the Syracusans: After Dion had driven out the tyrant Dionysius, he himself after was slain coming immediately by treason; and those that aided him to restore the Syracusans to their liberty, fell out, and were at dissension among themselves. By reason whereof, the city of Syracuse changing continually new tyrants, was so troubled and turmoiled with all sort of evils, that it was left in manner desolate, and without inhabitants. The rest of Sicily in like case was utterly destroyed, and no cities in manner left standing, by reason of the long wars: and those few that remained, were most inhabited of foreign soldiers and strangers (a company of loose men gathered together that took pay of no prince nor city), all the dominions of the same being easily usurped, and as easy to change their lord. In so much, Dionysius the tyrant, ten years after Dion had driven him out of Sicily, having gathered a certain number of soldiers together again, and through their help driven out Niseus [Nysaeus], that reigned at that time in Syracusa: he [Dionysius] recovered the Realm again, and made himself King. So, if he was strangely expulsed by a small power out of the greatest Kingdom that ever was in the world: likewise he more strangely recovered it again, being banished and very poor, making himself King over them, who before had driven him out.
Thus were the inhabitants of the city compelled, to serve this tyrant: who besides that of his own nature he was never courteous nor civil, he was now grown to be far more dogged and cruel, by reason of the extreme misery and misfortune he had endured.
But the noblest citizens repaired unto Hicetes, who at that time as lord ruled the city of the Leontines, and they chose him for their general ; not for that he was any thing better than the open tyrants, but because they had no other to repair unto at that time, and they trusted him best, for that he was born (as themselves) within the city of Syracuse, and because also he had men of war about him, to make head against this tyrant.
But in the meantime, the Carthaginians came down into Sicily with a great army [Dryden says navy], and invaded the country. The Syracusans being afraid of them, determined to send ambassadors into Greece unto the Corinthians, to pray aid of them against the barbarous people, having better hope of them, then of any other of the Grecians. And that not altogether because they were lineally descended from them, and that they had received in times past many pleasures at their hands: but also for that they knew that Corinth was a city, that in all ages and times, did ever love liberty, and hate tyrants, and that had always made their greatest wars, not for ambition of Kingdoms, nor of covetous desire to conquer and rule, but only to defend and maintain the liberty of the Grecians.
But Hicetes in another contrary sort, he took upon him to be general, with a mind to make himself king of Syracuse. For he had secretly practised with the Carthaginians, and openly notwithstanding, in words he commended the counsel and determination of the Syracusans, and sent ambassadors from himself also with theirs, unto Peloponnesus [to the Corinthians]: not that he was desirous any aid should come from them to Syracuse, but because he hoped if the Corinthians refused to send them aid (as it was very likely they would, for the wars and troubles that were in Greece) that he might more easily turn all over to the Carthaginians, and use them as his friends, to aid him against the Syracusans, or the tyrant Dionysius. And that this was his full purpose, and intent, it appeared plainly soon after.
Narration and Discussion:
What are the reasons the Syracusans both need and expect the help of the Corinthians? Why is King Hicetes so eager to send his own ambassadors along with theirs?
LESSON TWO: Timoleon, Timophanes, and some very big questions
As I am writing this in 2014, one of the popular movies this year has been The Lego Movie, about an everyday construction worker who is somehow picked out to be "The Special," the one whose arrival has been prophesied and who will save the Lego world from an evil force. "The Special" picked out for the Corinthian/Syracusan campaign, is someone named Timoleon, "a man that until that time was never called on for service, neither looked for any such preferment." Much of this lesson is a flashback to the relationship between Timoleon and his brother, and a tragedy that had scarred Timoleon now for many years.
Note to parent/teacher or older students: This story is full of very difficult issues, and includes discussion about how Timoleon's decision, right or wrong, affected his relationship with other family members, threw him into depression, and almost caused him to end his own life. Please use discretion in reading and discussion.
commonweal: the collection of Greek city-states, or more generally, the common welfare of his people
abstaining from meat: refusing to eat anything
Section to Read:
Now when their ambassadors arrived at Corinth, and had delivered their message, the Corinthians, who had ever been careful to defend such cities as had sought unto them, and specially Syracuse: very willingly determined in counsel to send them aid, and the rather for that they were in good peace at that time, having wars with none of the Grecians. So their only stay rested, upon choosing of a general to lead their army. Now as the magistrates and governors of the city were naming such citizens as willingly offered their service, desirous to advance themselves, there stepped up a mean commoner who named Timoleon, Timodemus's son, a man that until that time was never called on for service, neither looked for any such preferment. And truly it is to be thought it was the secret working of the gods, that directed the thought of this mean commoner to name Timoleon: whose election fortune favored very much, and joined to his valliantness and virtue, marvelous good success in all his doings afterwards.
This Timoleon was borne of noble parents, both by Timoleon's father and mother: his father was called Timodemus, and parentage and his mother Demareta. He was naturally inclined to love his country and commonweal: and was always gentle and courteous to all men, saving that he mortally hated tyrants and wicked men. Furthermore nature had framed his body apt for wars and for pains: he was wise in his greenest youth in all things he took in hand, and in his age he shewed himself very valiant.
He had an elder brother called Timophanes, who was nothing like to him in condition: for he was a rash hairbrained man, and had a greedy desire to reign, being put into his head by a company of mean men, that bare him in hand they were his friends, and by certain soldiers gathered together, which he had always about him. And because he was very hot and forward in wars, his citizens took him for a noble captain, and a man of good service, and therefore oftentimes they gave him charge of men. And therein Timoleon did help him much to hide his fault he committed, or at the least made them seem less, and lighter than they were, still increasing that small good gift that nature brought forth in him [Timophanes].
As in a battle the Corinthians had against the Argives and the Cleoneians, Timoleon served as a private soldier amongst the footmen: and Timophanes his brother, having charge of horsemen, was in great danger of being cast away, if present help had not been. For his horse being hurt, threw him on the ground in the midst of his enemies. Whereupon part of those that were about him, were afraid, and dispersed themselves here and there: and those that remained with him, being few in number, and having many enemies to fight withal, did hardly withstand their force and charge. But his brother Timoleon seeing him in such instant danger afar off, ran with all speed possible to help him, and clapping his target before his brother Timophanes, that lay on the ground, receiving many wounds on his body with sword and arrows, with great difficulty he repulsed the enemies, and saved his own and his brother's life.
Now the Corinthians fearing the like matter to come that before had happened to them, which was to lose their city through default of their friends' help: they resolved in council, to entertain in pay continually four hundred soldiers that were strangers, whom they assigned over to Timophanes' charge. Who, abandoning all honesty and regard of the trust the Corinthians reposed in him, did presently practise all the ways he could to make himself lord of the city: and having put divers of the chiefest citizens to death without order of law, in the end, he openly proclaimed himself King. Timophanes.
Timoleon being very sorry for this, and thinking his brother's wickedness would be the very highway to his fall and destruction, sought first to win him with all the good words and persuasion he could, to move him to leave his ambitious desire to reign, and to salve (as near as might be) his hard dealing with the citizens. Timophanes would give no ear unto his brother's persuasions. Thereupon Timoleon then went untoone Aeschylus his friend, and brother unto Timophanes' wife, and to one Satyrus a soothsayer (as Theopompus the historiographer calleth him, and Ephorus calleth him Orthagoras) with whom he came again another time unto his brother: and they three coming to him, instantly besought him to believe good counsel, and to leave the Kingdom. Timophanes at the first did but laugh them to scorn, and sported at their persuasions: but afterwards he waxed warm, and grew into great choler with them. Timoleon seeing that, went a little aside, and covering his face fell a-weeping: and in the mean season, the other two drawing out their swords, slew Timophanes in the place. This was straight blown abroad through the city, and the better sort did greatly commend the noble mind and hate [that] Timoleon bare against the tyrant: considering that he being of a gentle nature, and loving to his kin, did notwithstanding regard the benefit of his country, before the natural affection to his brother, and preferred duty and justice, before nature and kindred. For, before he had saved his brother's life, fighting for defence of his country: and now in [Timophanes'] seeking to make himself King, and to rule the same, he made him to be slain. Such then as misliked popular government and liberty, and always followed the Nobility: they set a good face of the matter, as though they had been glad of the tyrant's death. Yet still reproving Timoleon for the horrible murder he had committed against his brother, declaring how detestable it was both to the gods and men: they so handled him, that it grieved him to the heart he had done it. But when it was told him that his mother took it marvelous evil, and that she pronounced horrible curses against him, and gave out terrible words of him, he went unto her in hope to comfort her: howbeit she could never abide to see him, but always shut her door against him.
Then he being wounded to the heart with sorrow, took a conceit suddenly to kill himself by abstaining from meat: but his friends would never forsake him in this despair, and urged him so far by entreaty and persuasion, that they compelled him to eat. Thereupon he resolved thenceforth to give himself over to a solitary life in the country, secluding himself from all company and dealings: so as at the beginning, he did not only refuse to repair unto the city, and all access of company, but wandering up and down in most solitary places, consumed himself and his time with melancholic. And thus we see, that counsels and judgements are lightly carried away (by praise or dispraise) if they be not shored up with rule of reason, and philosophic, and rest confounded in themselves. And therefore it is very requisite and necessary, that not only the act be good and honest of itself, but that the constant. resolution thereof be also constant, and not subject unto change: to the end we may do all things considerately. Lest we be like unto [gluttonous] men, who as they desire meats with a greedy appetite, and after are weary, disliking the same: even so we do suddenly repent our actions, ground upon a weak imagination, of the honesty that moved us thereunto. For repentance maketh the act, which before was good, naught. But determination, ground upon certain knowledge and truth of reason, doth never change, although the matter enterprised, have not always happy success. [omission]
Narration and Discussion:
List some of Timoleon's strengths and weaknesses, according to Plutarch. How does Plutarch contrast him with his brother Timophanes?
How do you know that Timoleon loved Timophanes, or at least felt loyal to him? Was he disloyal in the end? For those who have read about the assassination of Julius Caesar, you may find it interesting to compare it with the death of Timophanes. ("Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.")
For older students: Discuss the comment, "And thus we see, that counsels and judgements are lightly carried away (by praise or dispraise) if they be not shored up with rule of reason, and philosophic, and rest confounded in themselves." Why should we be wary of putting too much store either in others' commendations or in their criticism? Compare Proverbs 12:15 with Prov. 17:4 ; also look at Prov. 2:6 and maybe Colossians 3:23-25. Consider also the importance of guarding our own tongues from causing trouble or hurting others by a careless remark (James 3:5; Prov. 26:28).
For older students only: discuss the hypocrisy of those who"set a good face of the matter, as though they had been glad of the tyrant's death" but secretly reviled Timoleon because he had allowed his brother to be put to death.
We find ourselves back at the point where the story started, with Dionysius holding out in Syracuse, and Hicetes and the Carthaginians trying to get him out . . . but the Corinthians have also agreed to send help. Off Timoleon and his men go to Sicily with ten ships--not a very big fleet--and they get almost to Italy before things begin to turn in a way they weren't expecting. The last long paragraph of this section is going to take some slow reading to figure out what's going on, but once you've been through it, you'll see the Corinthians' problem. Can they outsmart Hicetes? Stay tuned.
Places to look up on a map:
Rhegium - a place that Plutarch later on calls "A Greek city, and a common friend to the parties"
Section to Read:
But to retum again to Timoleon. Whether that inward sorrow struck him to the heart for the death of his brother, or that shame did so abash him, as he durst not abide his mother: twenty years after, he never did any notable or famous act. And therefore, when he was named to be general of the aid that should be sent into Sicily, the people having willingly chosen and accepted of him: Teleclides, who was chief governor at that time in the city of Corinth, standing upon his feet before the people, spake unto Timoleon, and did exhort him to behave himself like an honest man, and valiant captain in his charge. For, said he, if you handle yourself well, we will think you have killed a tyrant: but if you do order yourself otherwise then well, we will judge you have killed your brother.
Now Timoleon being busy in levying of men, and preparing himself: letters came to the Corinthians from Hicetes, whereby plainly appeared, that Hicetes had carried two faces in one hood, and that he was become a traitor. For he had no sooner dispatchd his Ambassadors unto them, but he straight took the Carthaginians' part, and dealt openly for them, intending to drive out Dionysius, and to make himself king of Syracuse. But fearing least the Corinthians would send aid before he had wrought his feat: he wrote again unto the Corinthians, sending them word, that they should not need now to put themselves to any charge or danger for coming into Sicily, and specially, because the Carthaginians were very angry, and did also lie in wait in the way as they should come, with a great fleet of ships to meet with their army: and that for himself, because he saw they tarried long, he had made league and amity with them, against the tyrant Dionysius. When they had read his letters, if any of the Corinthians were before but coldly affected to this journey, choler did then so warm them against Hicetes, that they frankly granted Timoleon what he would ask, and help to furnish him to set him out. When the ships were ready rigged, and that the soldiers were furnished of all things necessary for their departure, the nuns of the goddess Proserpina said, they saw a vision in their dream, and that the goddesses Ceres and Proserpina did appear unto them, apparelled like travellers to take a journey: and told them, that they would go with Timoleon into Sicily.
Upon this speach only, the Corinthians rigged a galley, they called the galley of Ceres and Proserpina: and Timoleon himself before he would take the seas, went into the city of Delphes [Delphi], where he made sacrifice unto Apollo. And as he entered within the Sanctuary where the answers of the Oracle are made, there happened a wonderful sign unto him. For amongst the vows and offerings that are hanged up upon the walls of the Sanctuary, there fell a band directly upon Timoleon's head, embroidered all about with crowns of victory: so that it seemed Apollo sent him already crowned, before he had set out one foot towards the journey. He took ship, and sailed with seven galleys of Corinth, two of Corphue [Corcyra], and ten the Leucadians did [furnish]. When he was launched out in the main sea, having a frank gale of wind and large, he thought in the night that the element did open, and that out of the same there came a marvelous great bright light over his ship, and it was much like to a torch burning, when they show the ceremonies of the holy mysteries. This torch did accompany and guide them all their voyage, and in the end it vanished away, and seemed to fall down upon the coast of Italy, where the Shipmasters had determined to arrive. [omission]
Thus did this celestial sign of the gods both encourage those that went this journey, and deliver them also assured hope, who sailed with all possible speed they could: until such time, as having crossed the seas, they arrived upon the coast of Italy. But when they came thither, the news they understood from Sicily put Timoleon in great perplexity, and did marvelously discourage the soldiers he brought with him. For Hicetes having overthrown the battle of the tyrant Dionysius, and possessed the greatest part of the city of Syracuse: he did besiege him within the castle, and within that part of the city which is called [the Island], where he had pent him up, and enclosed him in with walls round about. And in the meantime he [Hicetes] had prayed the Carthaginians, that they would be careful to keep Timoleon from landing in Sicily, to the end that by preventing that aid, they might easily divide Sicily between them, and no man to [stop] them. The Carthaginians following his request, sent twenty of their galleys unto Rhegio [Rhegium], among which Hicetes' ambassadors were sent to Timoleon, with testimony of his doings: for they were fair flattering words, to cloak his wicked intent he purposed. For they willed Timoleon he should go himself alone (if he thought good) unto Hicetes, to counsel Hicetes and to accompany him in all his doings, which were now so far onwards, as he had almost ended them all. Furthermore, they did also persuade him, he should send back his ships and soldiers to Corinth again, considering that the war was now brought to good pass, and that the Carthaginians would in no case that his men should pass into Sicily, and that they were determined to fight with them, if they made any force to enter. So the Corinthians at their arrival into the city of Rhegio, finding there these Ambassadors, and seeing the fleet of the Carthaginians' ships, which did ride at anchor not far off from them: it spited them on the one side to see they were thus mocked and abused by Hicetes. For every one of them were marvelous angry with him, and were greatly afeared also for the poor Sicilians, whom too plainly they saw left a prey unto Hicetes for reward of his treason, and to the Carthaginians for recompense of the tyranny, which they suffered him to establish. So, on the other side they thought it impossible to conquer the ships of the Carthaginians, which lay in wait for them, and so near unto them: considering they were twice as many in number as they, and hard for them to subdue the army also that was in the hands of Hicetes in Sicily, considering that they were not come to him, but only for the maintenance of the wars.
Narration and Discussion:
What do you think of Teleclides' challenge to Timoleon? Was it reasonable?
This is a good opportunity to do a little creative narration, either in the form of a news report, a journal entry, or a dramatization (actual or on paper) of a meeting between Timoleon and his men to discuss the situation. Are there any possible solutions to the problem? What would you do if you were Timoleon and you were being forced to go and work for the one you were being sent to conquer? (Also, would you trust that these envoys of Hicetes would have no more evil intentions than that?)
In this passage, Timoleon hatches an escape from Rhegium. "So long, farewell." He is welcomed in Tauromenium, but finds a chilly welcome in most of the rest of Sicily. Only the one other city, Adranum, does want help fighting Dionysius--though they can't decide which army to ask, so they invite everybody at once. On the way there, Timoleon's army manages to surprise Hicetes, and their victory earns them the trust of the neighbouring towns.
incontinently: immediately, without delay
vanguard: those at the front
Section to Read:
Notwithstanding, Timoleon spake very courteously unto those Ambassadors, and captains of the Carthaginians' ships, letting them understand that he would do as much as they would have him: and to say truly, if he would have done otherwise, he could have won nothing by it. Nevertheless he desired for his discharge, they would say that openly, in the presence of the people of Rhegio, (being a city of Greece, friend and common to both parties) which they had spoken to him in secret: and that done, he would depart incontinently, alleging that it stood him very much upon for the safety of his discharge, and that they themselves also should more faithfully keep that they promised unto him touching the Syracusans, when they had agreed upon it, and promised it, before all the people of Rhegio, who should be witness of it. Now, all this was but a fetch and policy delivered by him, to shadow his departure, which the captains and governers of Rhegio did favor, and seem to help him in: because they wished Sicily should fall into the hands of the Corinthians, and feared much to have the barbarous people for their neighbours. For this cause they commanded a general assembly of all the people, during which time, they caused the gates of the city to be shut: giving it out, that it was because the Citizens should not go about any other matters in the meantime. Then when all the people were assembled, they began to make long orations without concluding any matter: the one leaving always to the other a like matter to talk of, to the end they might win time, untill the galleys of the Corinthians were departed. And staying the Carthaginians also in this assembly, they mistrusted nothing, because they saw Timoleon present: who made a countenance, as though he would rise to say something. But in the meantime, someone did secretely advertise Timoleon, that the other galleys were under sail, and gone their way, and that there was but one galley left, which tarried for him in the haven. Thereupon he suddenly stole away through the press, with the help of the Rhegians, being about the chair where the orations were made: and trudging quickly to the haven, he embarked incontinently, and hoisted sail also. And when he had overtaken his fleet, they went all safe together to land at the city of Tauromenion, which is in Sicily: there they were very well received by Andromachus, who long before had sent for them, for he governed this city, as if he had been Lord thereof. He was the father of Timaeus the Historiographer, the honestest man of all those that did bear rule at that time in all Sicily. For he did rule his Citizens, in all justice and equity, and did always shew himself an open enemy of tyrants. And following his affection therein, he lent his city at that time unto Timoleon, to gather people together, and persuaded his the city of citizens to enter into league with the Corinthians, and to aid them, to deliver Sicily from bondage, and to restore it again to liberty.
But the captains of the Carthaginians that were at Rhegio, when they knew that Timoleon was under sail and gone, after the assembly was broken up: they were ready to eat their fingers for spite, to see themselves thus finely mocked and deceived. The Rhegians on the other side, were merry at the matter, to see how the Phenicians stormed at it, that they had such a fine part played them. Howbeit in the end, they determined to send an Ambassador unto Tauromenion, in one of their galleys. This Ambassador spake very boldly, and barbarously unto Andromachus, and in a choler: and last of all, he shewed him first the palm of his hand, then the back of his hand, and did threaten him that his city should be turned over hand, if he did not quickly send away the Corinthians. Andromachus fell a-laughing at him, and did turn his hand up and down as the Ambassador had done, and bade him that he should get him going, and that shewing with speed out of his city, if he would not see the [keel of his ship] turned upward.
Hicetes, [informed that Timoleon had landed] and being afraid, sent for a great number of galleys [from] the Carthaginians. Then the Syracusans began to despair utterly, when they saw their haven full of the Carthaginian galleys, the best part of their city kept by Hicetes, and the castle by the tyrant Dionysius. And on the other side, that Timoleon was not yet come but to a little corner of Sicily, having no more but the little city of Tauromenion, with a small power, and less hope: because there was not above a thousand footmen in all, to furnish these wars, neither provision of victuals, nor so much money as would serve to entertain and pay them. Besides also, that the other cities of Sicily did nothing trust him. But by reason of the violent extortions they had lately suffered, they hated all captains and leaders of men of war to the death, and specially for the treachery of Calippus and Pharax, whereof the one was an Athenian, and the other a Lacedaemonian. Both of them said they came to set Sicily at liberty, and to drive out the tyrants: and yet nevertheless they had done so much hurt unto the poor Sicilians, that the misery and calamity which they had suffered under the tyrants, seemed all to be gold unto them, in respect of that which the captains [Calippus and Pharax] had made them to abide. And they did not think them more happy, that had willingly submitted themselves unto the yoke of servitude: than those which they saw restored, and set at liberty. Therefore persuading themselves, that this Corinthian would be no better unto them, then the other had been before, but supposing they were the selfsame former crafts, and alluring baits of good hope and fair words, which they had tasted of before, to draw them to accept new tyrants: they did sore suspect it, and rejected all the Corinthian's persuasions.
Saving the Adranitans [people of Adranum] only, whose little city being consecrated to the god Adranus, (and greatly honored and reverenced through all Sicily) was then in dissension one against another insomuch as one part of them took part with Hicetes, and the Carthaginians, and another side of them sent unto Timoleon. So it fortuned, that both the one and the other, making all the possible speed they could, who should come first: [they] arrived both in manner at one self time. Hicetes had about five thousand soldiers. Timoleon had not in all, above twelve hundred men, with the which he departed to go towards the city of Adranus, distant from Tauromenion, about three hundred and forty furlongs.
For the first day's journey, he went no great way, but lodged betimes: but the next morning he marched very hastily, and had marvellous ill way. When night was come, and day light shut in, he had news that Hicetes did but newly arrive before Adranus, where he encamped. When the private captains understood this, they caused the vanguard to stay, to eat and repose a little, that they might be the lustier, and the stronger to fight. But Timoleon did set still forwards, and prayed them not to stay, but to go on with all the speed they could possible, that they might take their enemies out of order (as it was likely they should) being but newly arrived,
and troubled with making their cabins, and preparing for supper. Therewithall as he spake these words, he took his target on his arm, and marched himself the foremost man, as bravely and courageously as if he had gone to a most assured victory. The soldiers seeing him march with that life, they followed at his heels with like courage. So they had Timoleon not passing thirty furlongs to go, which when they overcome, they straight set upon their enemies, whom they found all out of order, and began to fly, so soon as they saw they were upon their backs before they were aware. By this means there were not above three hundred men slain, and twice as many more taken prisoners, and so their whole camp was possessed. Then the Adranitans opening their gates, yielded unto Timoleon, declaring unto him with great fear, and no less wonder, how at the very time when he gave charge upon the enemies, the doors of the temple of their god opened of themselves, and that the javelin which the image of their god did hold in his hand, did shake at the very end where the iron head was, and how all his face was seen to sweat. This (in my opinion) did not only signify the victory he [Timoleon] had gotten at that time, but all the notable exploits he did afterwards, unto the which, this first encounter gave a happy beginning.
Narration and Discussion:
After narrating this passage, discuss one or more of these questions (or you can use the first question as a narration prompt):
How did Timoleon lead his troops to victory over Hicetes, although they were outnumbered?
For older students: Certain armys had come to Sicily with promises to "introduce liberty and to depose tyrants" and then had "so tyrannised themselves, that the reign of former oppressors seemed to be a golden age in comparison." (Dryden's translation) This reminds me of King Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles 10, who said "My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions." (New International Version) Is it any wonder that the people were fearful and did not trust Timoleon's offer to help? Is it inevitable that "liberators" become tyrants afterwards?
LESSON FIVE: The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate
This lesson is mostly a sidebar to the story of Timoleon; it's about the capture of Dionysius (he doesn't put up much resistance) and his banishment to Corinth; and it concludes with some amusing and thoughtful quotable quotes from him. If you wonder why Plutarch devotes so much time to this in the middle of someone else's life story, he explains at the end of the passage: "So, methinks these things I have intermingled concerning Dionysius, are not [foreign] to the description of our Lives, neither are they troublesome nor unprofitable to the hearers, unless they have other hasty business to let or trouble them." Pull up a chair and set a spell.
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For immediately after, many cities sent unto Timoleon, to join in league with him. And Mamercus, the tyrant of Catana, a soldier, and very full of of money, did also seek his friendship. Furthermore, Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, being weary to follow hope any longer, and finding himself in manner forced unto it by long continuance of siege: made no more reckoning of Hicetes, when he knew that he was so shamefully overthrown. And contrariwise, much esteeming Timoleon's valiantness, he [found means] to advertise him, that he was contented to yield himself and the castle into the hands of the Corinthians. [Timoleon, gladly embracing this unlooked-for advantage], sent Euclides and Telemachus, two captains of the Corinthians, to take possession of the castle, with four hundred men, not all at a time, nor openly (for it was unpossible, the enemies lying in wait in the haven) but by small companies, and by stealth, he conveyed them all into the castle. So the soldiers possessed the castle, and the tyrant's palace, with all the moveables and munition of wars within the same. There were a great number of horse of service, great store of staves and weapons offensive of all sorts, and engines of battery to shoot far off, and sundry other weapons of defence, that had been gathered together of long time, to arm threescore and ten thousand men. Moreover, besides all this, there were two thousand soldiers, whom with all the other things rehearsed, Dionysius delivered up into the hands of Timoleon: and he himself, with his money and a few of his friends, went his way by sea, Hicetes not knowing it, and so came to Timoleon's camp. And yet within few days after, Timoleon sent him unto Corinth in a ship, with little store of money.
[Dionysius] was born and brought up in the greatest and most famous tyranny, and kingdom, conquered by force, that ever was in the world: and which himself had kept by the space of ten years after the death of his father. Since Dion drove him out, he had been marvelously turmoiled in wars, by the space of twelve years: in which time, although he had done much mischief, yet he had suffered also a great deal more. [omission]
Now when Dionysius was arrived in the city of Corinth, every Grecian was wonderful desirous to go see him, and to talk with him. And some went thither very glad of his overthrow, as if they had trodden him down with their feet, whom fortune had overthrown, so bitterly did they hate him. Other pityng him in their hearts, to see so great a change, did behold him as it were with a certain compassion, considering what great power, secret and divine causes have over men's weakness and frailty, and those things that daily passeth over our heads. For the world then, did never bring forth any work of nature, or of man's hand so wonderful, as was this of fortune. Who made the world see a man, that before was in manner Lord and King of all Sicily, sit then commonly in the city of Corinth, talking with a victualler, or sitting a whole day in a perfumer's shop, or commonly drinking in some cellar or tavern, or to brawl and scold in the midst of the streets [with common women] or else to teach common minstrels in every lane and alley, and to dispute with them with the best reason he had, about the harmony and music, of the songs they sang in the theaters. Now some say he did this, because he knew not else how he should drive the time away, for that indeed he was of a base mind, and an effeminate person, given over to all dishonest lusts and desires. Other are of opinion, he did it to be the less regarded, for fear lest the Corinthians should have him in jealousy and suspicion, imagining that he did take the change and state of his life in grievous part, and that he should yet look back, hoping for a time to recover his state again: and that for this cause he did it, and of purpose feigned many things against his nature, seeming to be a [complete idiot], to see him do those things he did.
Some notwithstanding have gathered together certain of his answers, which do testify that he did not all these things of a base brutish mind, but to fit himself only to his present misery and misfortune. For when he came to Leucades, an ancient city built by the Corinthians, as was also the city of Syracuse: he told the inhabitants of the same, that he was like to young boys that had done a fault. For as they fly from their fathers being ashamed to come in their sight, and are gladder to be with their brethren: even so is it with me, said he: for it would please me better to dwell here with you, then to go to Corinth our head city. Another time, being at Corinth, a stranger was very busy with him, (knowing how familiar Dionysius was with learned men and Philosophers, while he reigned in Syracuse) and asked him in the end in derision: what benefit he got by Plato's wisdom and knowledge ? The benefit of he answered him again: How thinkest thou, hath it done good, when thou seest me bear so patiently this change of fortune? Aristoxenus a musician, and others, asking him what offence Plato had done unto him: he answered: That tyrants' state is ever unfortunate, and subject to many evils: but yet no evil in their state was comparable to this. That none of all those they take to be their most familiars, dare once tell them truly anything: and that through their fault, he left Plato's company.
Another time there cometh a pleasant fellow to him, and thinking to mock him finely, as he entered into his chamber, he shook his gown, as the manner is when they come to tyrants, to shew that they have no weapons under their gowns. But Dionysius encountered him as pleasantly, saying to him: Do that when thou goest hence, to see if thou hast stolen nothing.
And again, Philip King of Macedon at his table one day descending into talk of songs, verse, and tragedies, which Dionysius his father had made, making as though he wondered at them, how possibly he could have leisure to do them: he answered him very trimly, and to good purpose. He did them even at such times (quoth he) as you and I, and all other great lords whom they reckon happy, are disposed to be drunk, and play the fools.
Now for Plato, he never saw Dionysius at Corinth. But Diogenes Sinopian, the first time that ever he met with Dionysius, said unto him: O, how unworthy art thou of this state. Dionysius stayed suddenly, and replied: saying Truly I thank thee, Diogenes, that thou hast compassion of my misery. Why, said Diogenes again: Doest thou think I pity thee? Nay, it spiteth me rather to see such a slave as thou (worthy to die in the wicked state of a tyrant like thy father) to live in such security, and idle life, as thou leadest amongst us.
When I come to compare these words of Diogenes, with Philistus the Historiographer, bewailing the hard fortune of the daughters of the Leptines, saying that they were brought from the top of all worldly felicity, honor, and goods, (whereof tyrannical state aboundeth) unto a base, private, and humble life: methinks they are the proper lamentations of a woman, that sorroweth for the loss of her boxes of painting colours, or for her purple gowns, or for other such pretty fine trims of gold, as women used to wear. So, methinks these things I have intermingled concerning Dionysius, are not [foreign] to the description of our Lives, neither are they troublesome nor unprofitable to the hearers, unless they have other hasty business to let or trouble them.
Narration and Discussion:
After narrating this passage, discuss one or more of these questions:
Why did Dionysius "despise" Hicetes but not consider it beneath his dignity to surrender to Timoleon? If he let Timoleon know that he would "deliver up himself and citadel into their hands," why did Timoleon's men have to enter by stealth?
Plutarch says that some Corinthians saw in Dionysius's life "what great power, secret and divine causes have over men's weakness and frailty, and those things that daily passeth over our heads." Dryden translates that as "a proof of the strength and potency with which divine and unseen causes operate amidst the weakness of human visible things." Would Christians agree with this viewpoint? (Example: the parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12.)
Why does Plutarch think that perhaps Dionysius deliberately played a bit of a fool in Corinth?
What is your favourite of Plutarch's anecdotes about Dionysius? Why?
This passage is both easy to follow and confusing. It's easy to follow because there's lots of action and the vocabulary isn't too difficult. It's confusing because a LOT happens here.
At the end of the last lesson, I asked why it might be that Timoleon's men had to sneak into the citadel to capture Dionysius. In this passage, the reason becomes clear: Hicetes' men are besieging the fort, and even with Dionysius gone, they continue the struggle in hopes that at least they will force out the Corinthian soldiers who remain inside.
vittelled: fed, supplied
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But now if the tyrant Dionysius's wretched state seems strange, Timoleon's prosperity then was no less wonderful. For within fifty days after he had set foot in Sicily, he had the castle of Syracuse in his possession, and sent Dionysius as an exile to Corinth. This did set the Corinthians in such a jollity, that they sent him a supply of two thousand footmen, and two hundred horsemen, which were appointed to land in Italy, in the country of the Thurians. And perceiving that they could not possibly go from thence into Sicily, because the Carthaginians kept the seas with a great navy of ships, and that thereby they were compelled to stave for better opportunity: in the meantime they bestowed their leisure in doing a notable good act. For the Thurians, being in wars at that time with the Brutians, they did put their city into their [Corinthian] hands, which they kept very faithfully and friendly, as it had been their own native country. Hicetes all this while did besiege the castle of Syracuse, preventing all he could possible, that there should come no corn by sea unto the Corinthians that kept within the castle: and he had hired two strange soldiers, which he sent unto the city of Adranus, to kill Timoleon by treason, who kept no guard about his person, and continued amongst the Adranitans, mistrusting nothing in the world, for the trust and confidence he had in the safeguard of the god of the Adranitans. These soldiers being sent to do this murder, were by chance informed that Timoleon should one day do sacrifice unto this god. So upon this, they came into the temple, having daggers under their gowns, and by little and little thrust in through the press, that they got at the length hard to the altar. But at the present time as one encouraged another to dispatch the matter, a third person they thought not of, gave one of the two a great cut in the head with his sword, that he fell to the ground. The man that had hurt him thus, fled straight upon it, with his sword drawn in his hand, and recovered the top of a high rock. The other soldier that came with him, and that was not hurt, got hold of a corner of the altar, and besought pardon of Timoleon, and told him he would discover the treason practised against him. Timoleon thereupon pardoned him. Then he told him how his companion that was slain, and himself, were both hired, and sent to kill him. In the meantime, they brought him also that had taken the rock, who cried out aloud, he had done no more then he should do: for he had killed him that had slain his own father before, in the city of the Leontines. And to justify this to be true, certain that stood by did affirm, it was so indeed. Whereat they wondered greatly to consider the marvelous working of fortune, how she doth bring one thing to pass by means of another, and gathereth all things together, how far asunder soever they be, and linketh them together, though they seem to be clean contrary one to another, with no manner of likeness or conjunction between them, making the end of the one, to be the beginning of another. The Corinthians examining this matter throughly, gave him that slew the soldier with his sword, a crown of the value of ten minas, because that by means of his just anger, he had done good service to the god that had preserved Timoleon.
And furthermore, this good hap did not only serve the present turn, but was to good purpose ever after. For those that saw it, were put in better hope, and had thenceforth more care and regard unto Timoleon's person, because he was a holy man, one that loved the gods, and that was purposely sent to deliver Sicily from captivity. But Hicetes having missed his first purpose, and seeing numbers daily drawn to Timoleon's devotion: he was mad with himself, that having so great an army of the Carthaginians at hand at his commandment, he took but a few of them to serve his turn, as if he had been ashamed of his fact, and had used their frendship by stealth. So he sent hereupon for Mago their general, with all his fleet. Mago at his request brought a hundred and fifty sail, which occupied and covered all the haven: and afterwards landed three score thousand men, whom the army lodged every man within the city of Syracuse. Then every man imagined the time was now come, which old men had threatened Sicily with many years before, and that continually: that one day it should be conquered, and inhabited by the barbarous people. For in all the wars the Carthaginians ever had before in the country of Sicily, they could never come to take the city of Syracuse: and then through Hicetes' treason, who had received them, they were seen encamped there. On the other side, the Corinthians that were within the castle, found themselves in great distress, because their victuals waxed scant, and the haven was so straightly kept. Moreover, they were driven to be armed continually to defend the walls, which the enemies battered, and assaulted in sundry places, with all kinds of engines of battery, and sundry sorts of devised instruments and inventions to take cities: by reason whereof, they were compelled also to divide themselves into many companies. Nevertheless, Timoleon without, gave them all the aid he could possible: sending them corn from Catana, in little fisher boats and small [skiffs], which got into the castle many times, but specially in storm and foul weather, passing by the galleys of the barbarous people, that lay scatteringly one from another, dispersed abroad by tempest, and great billows of the sea. But Mago and Hicetes finding this, determined to go take the city of Catana, from whence those of the castle of Syracuse were vittelled: and taking with them the best soldiers of all their army, they departed from Syracuse, and sailed towardes Catana.
Now in the mean space, Neon [the] Corinthian, captain of all those that were within the castle, perceiving the enemies within the city kept but slender [guard]: made a sudden sally out upon them, and taking them unawares, slew a great number at the first charge, and drove away the other. So by this occasion he won a quarter of the city, which they call Acradina, and was the best part of the city, that had received least hurt. For the city of Syracuse seemeth to be built of many towns joined together. So having found there great plenty of corn, gold, and silver, he would not forsake that quarter no more, nor return again into the castle: but fortifying with all diligence the compass and precinct of the same, and joining it unto the castle with certain fortifications he built up in haste, he determined to keep both the one and the other. Now were Mago and Hicetes very near unto Catana, when a post overtook them, purposely sent from Syracuse unto them: who brought them news, that the Acradina was taken. Whereat they both wondered, and returned back again with all speed possible (having failed of their purpose at Catana) to keep that they had yet left in their hands.
Narration and Discussion:
Give some reasons that people thought Timoleon must have had some kind of guardian angel looking after him. Do you agree? Why or why not?
What person or group of people do you think showed the most courage or boldness in this passage?
Narration suggestion: Pretend you are Hicetes writing in his journal or writing a letter to someone. Tell how this has not all gone quite the way you wanted it to.
The battle for Syracuse continues, and the Corinthian backup forces finally find a way across to the island (due to Carthaginian lack of foresight). A campaign to discourage the Greek-born mercenaries working for the Carthaginians is also successful, and takes the Carthaginians out of the picture. However, Hicetes is resolved "to fight it out alone." Will the Corinthians finally be able to take the city? And who gets the credit when they do?
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Now for that matter, it is yet a question, whether we should impute it unto wisdom and valiancy, or unto good fortune: but the thing I will tell you now, in my opinion, is altogether to be suscribed unto contention of fortune. And this it is. The two thousand footmen and fortune and two hundred horsemen of the Corinthians, that remained in the city of the Thurians, partly for fear of the galleys of the Carthaginians that lay in wait for them as they should pass, Hanno being their admiral: and partly also for that the sea was very rough and high many days together, and was always in storm and tempest: in the end, they ventured to go through the country of the Brutians. And partly with their good will (but rather by force) they got through, and recovered the city of Rhegio, the sea being yet marvelous high and rough. Hanno the admiral of the Carthaginians, looking no more then for their passage, thought with himself that he had devised a marvelous fine policy, to deceive the enemies. Thereupon he willed all his men to put garlands of flowers of triumph upon their heads, and therewithall also made them dress up, and set forth his galleys, with targets, corselets, and brigantines after the Grecian fashion. So in this bravery he returned again, sailing towards Syracuse, and came in with force of rowers, rowing under the castle side of Syracuse, with great laughing, and clapping of hands: crying out aloud to them that were in the castle, that he had overthrown their aid which came from Corinth, as they thought to pass by the coast of Italy into Sicily, flattering themselves, that this did much discourage those that were besieged.
But whilst he sported thus with his fond device, the two thousand Corinthians being arrived through the country of the Brutians in the city of Rhegio, perceiving the coast clear, and that the passage by sea was not kept, and that the raging seas were by miracle (as it were) made of purpose calm for them: they took seas forthwith in such fisher boats and passengers as they found ready, in the which they went into Sicily, in such good safety, as they drew their horse (holding them by the reins) alongst their boats with them. When they were all passed over, Timoleon having received them, went immediately to take Messina, and marching thence in battle array, took his way towards Syracuse, trusting better to his good fortune, than to the force he had: for his whole number in all, were not above four thousand fighting men.
Notwithstanding, Mago hearing of his coming, quaked for fear, and doubted the more upon this occasion: About Syracuse are certain marshes that receive great quantity of sweet fresh water, as well of fountains and springs, as also of little running brooks, lakes, and rivers, which run that way towards the sea: and therefore there are great store of eels in that place, and the fishing is great there at all times, but specially for such as delight to take eels. Whereupon the Grecians that took pay on both sides, when they had leisure, and that all was quiet between them, they intended fishing. Now, they being all country men, and of one language, had no private quarrel one with an other: but when time was to fight, they did their duties, and in time of peace also frequented familiarly togither, and one spake with an other, and specially when they were busy fishing for eels: saying, that they marvelled at the situation of the goodly places thereabouts, and that they stood so pleasantly and commodious upon the sea side. So one of the soldiers that served under the Corinthians, chanced to say unto them: Is it possible that you that be Grecians borne, and have so goodly a city of your own, and full of so many goodly commodities: that ye will give it up unto these barbarous people, the vile Carthaginians, and most cruel murderers of the world? where you should rather wish that there were many Sicilies betwixt them and Greece. Have ye so little consideration or judgement to think, that they have assembled an army out of all Africa, unto Hercules' pillars, and to the sea Atlantic, to come hither to fight to stablish Hicetes' tyranny: who, if he had been a wise and skilful captain, would not have cast out his ancestors and founders, to bring into his country the ancient enemies of the same: but might have received such honor and authority of the Corinthians and Timoleon, as he could reasonably have desired, and that with all their favor and good will. The soldiers that heard this tale, reported it again in their camp: Insomuch they made Mago suspect there was treason in hand, and so sought some [pretence] to be gone. But hereupon, notwithstanding that Hicetes prayed him all he could to tarry, declaring unto him how much they were stronger then their enemies, and that Timoleon did rather prevail by his hardiness and good fortune, then exceed him in number of men: yet he hoisted sail, and returned with shame enough into Africa, letting slip the conquest of all Sicily out of his hands, without any sight of reason or cause at all.
The next day after he was gone, Timoleon presented battle before the city. When the Grecians and he understood that the Carthaginians were fled, and that they saw the haven rid of all the ships: and then began to jest at Mago's cowardliness, and in derision proclaimed in the city, that they would give him a good reward that could bring them news, whether the army of the Carthaginians were fled. But for all this, Hicetes was bent to fight, and would not leave the spoil he had gotten, but defend the quarters of the city he had possessed, at the sword's point, trusting to the strength and situation of the places, which were hardly to be approached. Timoleon perceiving that, divided his army, and he with one part thereof did set upon that side which was the hardest to approach, and did stand upon the river of Anapus: then he appointed another part of his army to assault all at one time, the side of Acradina, whereof Isias Corinthian had the leading. The third part of his army that came last from Corinth, which Dinarchus and Demaratus led: he appointed to assault the quarter called Epipoles. Thus, assault being given on all sides at one time, Hicetes' bands of men were broken, and ran their way. Now that the city was thus won by assault, and come so suddenly to the hands of Timoleon, Timoleon and the enemies being fled: it is good reason we ascribe it to the valiantness of the soldiers, and the captain's great wisdom. But where there was not one Corinthian slain, nor hurt in this assault: sure methinks herein, it was only the work and deed of fortune, that did favor and protect Timoleon, to contend against his valiantness. To the end that those which should hereafter hear of his doings, should have more occasion to wonder at his good hap: then to praise and commend his valiantness. For the fame of this great exploit, did in few days not only run through all Italy, but also through all Greece. Insomuch as the Corinthians, (who could scant believe their men were passed with safety into Sicily) understood withall that they were safely arrived there, and had gotten the victory of their enemies: so prosperous was their journey, and fortune so speedily did favor his noble acts.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss one or more of these questions:
Study the discussion between the mercenary soldiers (while they fished for eels). Explain the speech of the Corinthian soldier to those fighting on the Carthaginian side. What point is he making, and how is it received?
Plutarch gives Fortune a personality in this passage; he says "she made it her aim to exceed and obscure his actions by her favours" and that she "as with a new ornament, set off the native lustres of the performance." It might be interesting (strictly for fun) to take on the role of Fortune and have her describe (a bit boastfully) the part she played in these events. You might also want to discuss how this relates to a Christian worldview of God's dealing in history vs. coincidence and good luck.
Greed, greed, greed. Doesn't everyone want to grab what he can, when he can? Timoleon's army, and the Corinthians in general, are now in a perfect position to do whatever they want with Syracuse. But the theme that comes through most strongly here is . . . wisdom and restraint. With the support of the Corinthians, the devastated Syracusans begin to rebuild their city.
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Timoleon having now the castle of Syracuse in his hands, did not follow [the error of] Dion. For he spared not the castle for the beauty and stately building thereof, but avoiding the suspicion that caused Dion first to be accused, and lastly to be slain: he caused it to be proclaimed by trumpet, that any Syracusan whatsoever, should come with [pick-axes], and mattocks, to help to dig down and overthrow the fort of the tyrants. There was not a man in all the city of Syracuse, but went thither straight, and thought that proclamation and day to be a most happy beginning, of the recovery of their liberty. So they did not only overthrow the castle, but the palace also, and the tombs: and generally all that served in any respect for the memory of any of the tyrants. And having cleared the place in few days, and made all plain: Timoleon at the suit of the Citizens, made council halls, and places of justice to be built there: and did by this means establish a free state and popular government, made and did suppress all tyrannical power.
Now, when he won a city that had no inhabitants, which government before had consumed, and fear of tyrannic had emptied, so as grass grew so high and rank in the great marketplace of Syracuse, as they grazed their horses there, and the horsekeepers lay down by them on the grass as they fed: and that all the cities, a few excepted, were full of red deer and wild boars, so that men given to delight in hunting, having leisure, might find game many times within the suburbs and town ditches, hard by the walls: and that such as dwelt in castles and strongholds in the country, would not leave them, to come and dwell in cities, by reason they were all grown so stout, and did so hate and detest assemblies of council, orations, and order of government, where so many tyrants had reigned. Timoleon thereupon seeing this desolation, and also so few Syracusans born that had escaped, thought good, and all his captains, to write to the Corinthians, to send people out of Greece to inhabit the city of Syracuse again. For otherwise the country would grow barren and unprofitable, if the ground were not plowed. [omission]
These letters of Timoleon being brought unto Corinth, and the ambassadors of Syracuse being arrived with them also, who besought the people to take care and protection over their poor city, and that they would once again be founders of the same: the Corinthians did not greedily desire to be lords of so goodly and great a city, but first proclaimed by the trumpet in all the assemblies, solemn feasts, and common plays of Greece, that the Corinthians having destroyed the tirannie that was in the city of Syracuse, and driven out the tyrants, did call the Syracusans that were fugitives out of their country, home again, and all other Sicilians that liked to come and dwell there, to enjoy all freedom and liberty, with promise to make just and equal division of the lands among them, the one to have as much as the other. Moreover they sent out posts and messengers into Asia, and into all the lands where they understood the banished Syracusans remained: to persuade and entreat them to come to Corinth, and that the Corinthians would give them ships, captains, and means to conduct them safely unto Syracuse, at their own proper costs and charges. In recompense whereof, the city of Corinth received every man's most noble praise and blessing, as well for delivering Sicily in that sort from the bondage of tyrants: as also for keeping it out of the hands of the barbarous people, and restored the natural Syracusans, and Sicilians, to their home and country again. Nevertheless, such Sicilians as repaired to Corinth upon this proclamation (themselves being but a small number to inhabit the country) besought the Corinthians to join to them some other inhabitants, as well of Corinth itself, as out of the rest of Greece: the which was performed. For they gathered together about ten thousand persons, whom they shipped, and sent to Syracuse. Where there were already a great number of others come unto Timoleon, as well out of Sicily itself, as out of all Italy besides: so that the whole number (as Athanis writeth) came to three score thousand persons. Amongst them he divided the whole country, and sold them houses of the city, unto the value of a thousand talents. And because he would leave the old Syracusans able to recover their own, and make the poor people by this means to have money in common, to defray the common charges of the city, as also their expenses in time of wars: the statues or images were sold, and the people by most voices did condemn them. For they were solemly indicted, accused, and arraigned, as if they had been men alive to be condemned. And it is reported that the Syracusans did reserve the statue of Gelon, an ancient tyrant of their city, honoring his memory, because of a great victory he had won of the Carthaginians, near the city of Himera: and condemned all the rest to be taken away out of every corner of the city, and to be sold.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss one or more of these questions:
Show how Timoleon demonstrated wisdom in his dealings with the Syracusans. How did the people back in Corinth help? Give any examples you have heard of where one group of people helped another in a similar way.
Why wouldn't the Syracusans return who "dwelt in castles and strongholds in the country" (those who had places to live outside of the city)? Why, in particular, were they not interested in participating in government? Do you think Timoleon could relate to their feelings about this?
Explain the imagery Plutarch uses in the description of the public statues being auctioned off. Why does he compare them to "men alive to be condemned?" A challenge for those who really like to write: write a soliloquy for a Syracusan who now must auction off his favourite statue.
Outnumbered again! Timoleon has been working hard to reclaim and rebuild Sicily. He has banished Hicetes, set up a new system of laws in Syracuse, and has kept his mercenaries busy by raiding several cities that were still held by the Carthaginians. We now arrive at the year 339 B.C., and an invasion by the Carthaginians; their seventy thousand (plus a thousand galleys full of supplies) against Timoleon's six thousand (it was seven thousand, but one thousand of the mercenaries decided he was "frantic and distracted" and "forsook" him). The story of the battle involves the river Crimesus, two eagles, and a load of parsley.
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The Carthaginians on the other side, while they were busy about the matters, came down into Lilybaeum, with an army of three score and ten ships of the thousand men, two hundred galleys, and a thousand other Carthaginian ships and vessels that carried engines of battery, carts, victuals, munition, and other necessary provision for a camp, intending to make sporting wars no more, but at once to drive all the Grecians again quite out of Sicily. For indeed it was an able army to overcome all the Sicilians, if they had been whole of themselves, and not divided.
Now they being advertised that the Sicilians had invaded their country, they went towards them in great fury, led by Asdrubal and Amilcar [Hamilcar], generals of the army. This news was straight brought to Syracuse, and the inhabitants were so stricken with fear of the report of their army: that being a marvelous great number of them within the city, scant three thousand of them had the hearts to arm themselves, and to go to the fielde with Timoleon. Now the strangers that took pay, were not above four thousand in all: and of them, a thousand of their hearts failed, and left him in midway, and returned home again. Saying, that Timoleon was out of his wits, and more rash then his years required, to undertake with five thousand footmen, and a thousand horse, to go against threescore and ten thousand men: and besides, to cary that small force he had to defend himself withal, eight great days journey from Syracuse. So, that if it chanced they were compelled to fly, they had no place whether they might retire themselves unto with safety, nor man that would take care to bury them, when they were slain. Nevertheles, Timoleon was glad he had that proof of them, before he came to battle. Moreover, having encouraged those that remained with him, he made them march with speed towards the river of Crimesus, where he understood he should meet with the Carthaginians.
So getting up upon a little hill, from whence he might see the camp of the enemies on the other side: by chance, certain mules fell upon his army loden with smallage (parsley or wild celery). The soldiers took a conceit at the first upon sight of it, and thought it was a token of ill luck: because it is a manner we use, to hang garlands of this herb, about the tombs of the dead. Hereof came the common proverb they use to speake when one lieth a-passing in his bed: he lacketh but smallage. As much to say, he is but a dead man. But Timoleon to draw them from this foolish superstition, and [ease their minds], stayed the army. And when he had used certain persuasions unto them, according to the time, his leisure, and occasion: he told them that the garland of itself came to offer them victory before hand. For, said he, the Corinthians do crown them that win the Isthmian games (which are celebrated in their country) with garlands of smallage. And at that time also garlands of even in the solemn Isthmian games, they used smallage for reward and token of victory: and at this present it is also used in the games of Nemea. And it is but lately taken up, that they have used branches of pine-apple [Dryden says pine] trees in the Isthmian games.
Now Timoleon had thus encouraged his men, as you have heard before: he first of all took of this smallage, and made himself a garland, and put it on his head. When they saw that, the captains and all the soldiers also took of the same, and made themselves the like. The soothsayers in like manner at the very same time, perceived two eagles flying towards them: the one of them holding a snake in her talons, which she pierced through and through, and the other as she flew, gave a terrible cry. So they shewed them both unto the soldiers, who did then all together with one voice call upon the gods for help. Now this fortuned about the beginning of the summer, and towards the later end of May, the sun drawing towards the solstice of the summer: when there rose a great mist out of the river, that covered all the fields over, so as they could not see the enemies' camp, but only heard a marvelous confused noise of men's voices, as it had come from a great army, and rising up to the top of the hill, they laid their targets down on the ground to take a little breath: and the sun having drawn and sucked up all the moist vapours of the mist unto the top of the hills, the air began to be so thick, that the tops of the mountains were all covered over with clouds, and contrarily, the valley underneath was all clear and fair, that they might easily see the river of Crimesus, and the enemies also, how they passed it over in this sort. First, they had put their carts of war foremost, which were very hotly armed and well appointed. Next unto them there followed ten thousand footmen, armed with white targets upon their arms: whom they seeing afar off so well appointed, they conjectured by their stately march and good order, that they were the Carthaginians themselves. After them, divers other nations followed confusedly one with another, and so they thronged over with great disorder. There Timoleon considering the river gave him opportunity to take them before they were half past over, and to set upon what number he would: after he had shewed his men with his finger, how the battle of their enemies was divided in two parts by means of the river, some of them being already passed over, and the other to pass:: He commanded Demaratus with his horsemen, to give a charge on the [vanguard of the enemy], to keep them from putting themselves in order of battle. And himself coming down the hill also with all his footmen into the valley, he gave to the Sicilians the two wings of his battle, mingling with them some strangers that served under him: and placed with himself in the midst, the Syracusans, with all the choice and best liked strangers.
So he tarried not long to join, when he saw the small good his horsemen did. For he perceived they could not come to give a lusty charge upon the battle of the Carthaginians, because they were paled in with these armed carts, that ran here and there before them: whereupon they were compelled to wheel about continually, (unless they would have put themselves in danger to have been utterly overthrown) and in their returns to give venture of charge, by turns on their enemies. Wherefore Timoleon taking his target on his arm, cried out aloud to his footmen, to follow him courageously, and to fear nothing. Those that heard his voice, thought it more then the voice of a man, whether the fury of his desire to fight did so strain it beyond ordinary course, or that some god (as many thought it then) did stretch his voice to cry out so lou and sensibly. His soldiers answered him again with the like voice: and prayed him to lead them without longer delay. Then he made his horsemen understand, that they should [draw off from the front where the chariots were], and that they should charge the Carthaginians on the flanks: and after he did set the foremost rank of his battle, target to target against the enemies, commanding the trumpets withal to sound.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss the story of the load of smallage / parsley. How did Timoleon use it turn his men from fear to courage? Can you think of any other situations where an object usually associated with bad things could be turned into something positive?
Explain the strategy that Timoleon planned to use against the Carthaginians. How did he show strong leadership, especially in dealing with the problem of the chariots?
Thunder, lightning, mud, floods . . . fighting is hard enough in good weather, but facing the Corinthians under these circumstances spelled disaster for the Carthaginians. Much of this passage is about the Corinthians' celebration after the battle. There was so much loot, from so many wealthy and important Carthaginians, that it took them three days to collect it all, and so much silver and gold that they didn't even bother reporting things like brass and iron. And of course, "the best and goodliest arms" were sent back to Corinth.
fresh-water soldiers: inexperienced soldiers
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Thus with great fury he went to give a charge upon them, who valiantly received the first charge, their bodies being armed with good iron corselets, and their heads with fair murrions of copper, besides the great targets they had also, which did easily receive the force of their darts, and the thrust of the pike. But when they came to handle their swords, where agility was more requisite than force: a fearful tempest of thunder, and flashing lightning withal, came from the mountains. After that came dark thick clouds also (gathered together from the top of the hills) and fell upon the valley, where the battle was fought, with a marvelous extreme shower of rain, fierce violent winds, and hail withal. All this tempest was upon the Grecians' backs, and full before the barbarous people, beating on their faces, and did blindfold their eyes, and continually tormented them with the rain that came full upon them with the wind, and the lightnings so oft flashing amongst them, that one understood not another of them. Which did marvelously trouble them, and specially those that were but fresh-water soldiers, by reason of the terrible thunderclaps, and the noise, the boisterous wind and hail made upon their arms [weapons]: for that made them they could not hear the order of their captains. Moreover, the dirt did as much annoy the Carthaginians, because they were not nimble in their armor, but heavily armed as we have told you: and besides that also, when the plates of their coats were through wet with water, they did load and hinder them so much the more, that they could not fight with any ease. This stood the Grecians to great purpose, to throw them down the easier. Thus when they were tumbling in the dirt with their heavy armor, up they could rise no more.
Furthermore, the river of Crimesus being risen high through the great rage of waters, and also for the multitude of people that passed over it, did overflow the valley all about: which being full of ditches, many caves, and hollow places, it was straight all drowned over, and filled with many running streams, that ran overthwart the field, without any certain channel. The Carthaginians being compassed all about with these waters, they could hardly get the way out of it. So as in the end they being overcome with the storm that still did beat upon them, and the Grecians having slain of their men at the first onset, to the number of four hundred of their choicest men, who made the first front of their battle: all the rest of their army turned their backs immediately, and fled for life. Insomuch, some of them being followed very near, were put to the sword in the midst of the valley: others, holding one another hard by the arms together, in the midst of the river as they passed over, were carried down the stream and drowned, with the swiftness and violence of the river. But the greatest number did think by footmanship to recover the hills thereabouts, who were overtaken by them that were light armed, and put to the sword every man. They say, that of ten thousand which were slain in this battle, three thousand of them were mere natural citizens of Carthage, which was a very sorrowful and grievous loss to the city. For they were of the noblest, the richest, the lustiest, and valiantest men of all Carthage. For there is no chronicle that mentioneth any former wars at any time before, where there died so many of Carthage at one field and battle, as were slain at that present time. For before that time, they did always entertain the Libyans, the Spaniards, and the Nomades [Numidians], in all their wars: so as when they lost any battle, the loss lighted not on them, but the strangers paid for it. The men of account also that were slain, were easily known by their spoils. For they that spoiled them, stood not trifling about getting of copper and iron together, because they found gold and silver enough.
For the battle being won, the Grecians passed over the river, and took the camp of the barbarous people, with all their carriages and baggage. And as for the prisoners, the soldiers stole many of them away, and sent them going: but of them that came to short to make common division of the spoil among them, they were about five thousand men, and two hundred carts of war that were taken besides.
Oh, it was a noble sight to behold the tent of Timoleon their general, how they environed it all about with heaps of spoils of every sort: amongst which there were a thousand brave corselets gilt, and graven, with marvelous curious works, and brought thither with them also ten thousand targets.
So the conquerors being but a small number, to take the spoil of a multitude that were slain they filled their purses even to the top. Yet were they three days about it, and in the end, the third day after the battle, they set up a mark or token of their victory. Then Timoleon sent unto Corinth, with the news of this overthrow, the fairest armors that were gotten in the spoil: because he would make his country and native city spoken of and commended through the world, above all the other cities of Greece. For that at Corinth only, their chief temples were set forth and adorned, not with spoils of the Grecians, nor offerings gotten by spilling the blood of their own nation and country: (which to say truly, are unpleasant memories) but with the spoils taken from the barbarous people their enemies, with inscriptions witnessing the valiancy and justice of those also, who by victory had obtained them. That is to wit, that the Corinthians and their captain Timoleon, (having delivered the Grecians dwelling in Sicily, from the bondage of the Carthaginians) had given those offerings unto the gods, to geve thanks for their victory.
That done, Timoleon leaving the strangers he had in pay, in the country subject to the Carthaginians, to spoil and destroy it: he returnd with the rest of his army unto Syracuse. Where at his first coming home, he banished the thousand soldiers that had forsaken him in his journey, with express charge that they should depart the city before sunset. So these thousand cowardly and mutinous soldiers passed over into Italy, where, under promise of the country, they were all unfortunately slain by the Brutians: such was the justice of the gods to pay their just reward of their treason.
Narration and Discussion:
The many pieces of Carthaginian armour that the Corinthians sent home had "inscriptions witnessing the valiancy and justice of those also, who by victory had obtained them." Dryden translates this "the noblest titles inscribed upon them, titles telling of the justice as well as fortitude of the conquerors." Can you explain this? Why was it significant that the armour was sent to adorn the temples?
The mercenaries who had deserted Timoleon were killed by the Brutians, "such was the justice of the gods to pay their just reward of their treason.." Do you agree that it was a just reward? Why or why not?
All of these questions seem to have a common theme: the value of human life, and whether social class or other factors give some lives more value than others. How does this fit (or not) with a Christian worldview?
We're going to skip ahead a bit here and miss the details of how Timoleon captured and executed Hicetes, his family, and others who had shown him contempt. "So true it is," Plutarch says, "that men are usually more stung and galled by reproachful words than by hostile actions."
This passage describes the peace treaty between Corinth and Carthage, and the capture and death of Hippo or Hippon (the tyrant of Messena) and Mamercus (the tyrant of Catana). These events mark the end of the war and the repeopling of Sicily, "partly with new settlers, partly with the old inhabitants." Timoleon was "so zealous in assisting and providing for them that he was honoured among them as their founder."
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That done, he went to Catana against Mamercus, who tarried him by the river of Abolus, where Mamercus was overthrown in battle, and above two thousand men slain, the greatest part whereof were the Carthaginians, whom Gisco had sent for his relief. Afterwards he granted peace to the Carthaginians, upon earnest suit made unto him, with condition, that they should keep on the other side of the river of Lycus, and that it should be lawful for any of the inhabitants there that would, to come and dwell in the territory of the Syracusans, and to bring away with them their goods, their wives and their children: and furthermore, that from thenceforth the Carthaginians should renounce all league, confederacy, and alliance with the tyrants. Whereupon Mamercus having no hope of good success in his doings, he would go into Italy to stir up the Lucanians against Timoleon, and the Syracusans. But they that were in his company, returned back again with their galleys in the midway: and when they were returned into Sicily, they delivered up the city of Catana into the hands of Timoleon, so as Mamercus was constrained to save him self, and to fly unto Messina, to Hippon the tyrant thereof. But Timoleon followed him, and beseged the city both by sea and by land. Whereat Hippon quaked for fear, and thought to fly by taking ship, but he was taken starting.
And the Messenians having him in their hands, made all the children come from the school to the Theater, to see one of the goodliest sights that they could devise: to wit, to see the tyrant punished, who was openly whipped, and afterwards Hippon put to death. Now for Mamercus, he did yield himself unto to death, to be judged by the Syracusans, so that Timoleon might not be his accuser. So he was brought unto Syracuse [omission] and was put to death as thieves and murderers are.
Thus did Timoleon root all tyrants out of Sicily, and make an end of all wars there. And whereas he found the whole isle, wild, savage, and quieteth all hatred of the natural countrymen and inhabitants of the same, for the extreme calamities and miseries they suffered: he brought it to be so civil, and so much desired of strangers that they came far and near to dwell there, where the natural inhabitants of the country self before, were glad to fly and forsake it.
For Agrigentum, and Gela, two great cities, did witness this, which after the wars of the Athenians, had been utterly forsaken and destroyed by the Carthaginians, and were then inhabited again. The one, by Magellus and Pheristus, two captains that came from Elea: and the other by Gorgos, who came from the isle of Ceos. And as near as they could, they gathered again together the first ancient Citizens and inhabitants of the same: whom Timoleon did not only assure of peace and safety to live there, to settle them quietly together: but willingly did help them besides, with all other things necessary, to his uttermost mean and ability, for which they loved and honored him as their father and founder. And this his good love and favor, was common also to all other people of Sicily whatsoever. So that in all Sicily there was no truce taken in wars, nor laws established, nor lands devided, nor institution of any policy or government thought good or available, if Timoleon's device had not been in it, as chief director of such matters: which gave him a singular grace to be acceptable to the gods, and generally to be beloved of all men.
For in those days, there were other famous men in Greece, that did marvelous great things: amongst whom were these, Timotheus, Agesilaus, Pelopidas, and Epaminondas, which Epaminondas Timoleon sought to follow in all things, as near as he could, above any of them all. But in all the actions of these other great captains, their glory was alway mingled with violence, pain, and labor: so as some of them have been touched with reproach, and other with repentance. Whereas contrarywise, in all Timoleon's doings (that only excepted, which he was forced to do to his brother) there was nothing but they might with truth (as Timaeus said) proclaim the saying of Sophocles:
Oh mighty gods of heaven, what Venus stately dame,
or Cupid (god) have thus yput (sic), their hands unto this same?
And like as Antimachus' verses, and Dionysius' painting, both Colophonians, are full of sinews and strength, and yet at this present we se they are things greatly labored, and travelled with much pain: and that contrariwise in Nicomachus' tables, and Homer's verses, besides the passing workmanship and singular grace in them, a man findeth at the first sight, that they were easily made, and without great pain. Even so in like manner, whosoever will compare the painful bloody wars and battles of Epaminondas, and Agesilaus, with the wars of Timoleon, in the which, besides equity and justice, there is also great ease and quietness: he shall find, weighing things indifferently, that they have not been fortune's doings simply, but that they came of a most noble and fortunate courage. Yet he himself doth wisely impute it unto his good hap, and favorable fortune. For in his letters he wrote unto his familiar friends at Corinth, and in some other orations he made to the people of Syracuse: he spake it many times, that he thanked the almighty gods, that it had pleased them to save and deliver Sicily from bondage, by his means and service, and to give him the honor and dignity of the name. And having builded a temple in his house, he did dedicate it unto Fortune, and furthermore did consecrate his whole house unto her. For he dwelt in a house the Syracusans kept for him and gave him in recompense of the good service he had done dwelleth still them in the wars, with a marvelous fair pleasant house in the country also, where he kept most when he was at leisure. For he never after returned unto Corinth again, but sent for his wife and children to come thither, and never dealt afterwards with those troubles that fell out amongst the Grecians, neither did make himself to be envied of the citizens: (a mischief that most governors and captains do fall into, through their unsatiable desire of honor and authority) but lived all the rest of his life after in Sicily, rejoicing for the great good he had done, and specially to see so many cities and thousands of people happy by his means.
Narration and Discussion:
After narrating this passage, discuss one or more of these questions:
How did the Syracusans reward Timoleon? (If you like to act things out, you could have a ceremony presenting Timoleon with his reward.)
In his comparison of Timoleon with Aemilius Paulus, Plutarch says "I would not intend any reflection on Timoleon for accepting of a house and handsome estate in the country . . . there is no dishonour in accepting; but yet there is greater glory in a refusal, and the supremest virtue is shown in not wanting what it might fairly take." Do you agree that it might have been more honourable to refuse the reward?
Plutarch says that Timoleon, in his last years, "neither did make himself to be envied of the citizens." What did he mean, and what would have been the dangers of doing this? You might want to write or speak as Timoleon, and explain why you no longer want to be in the public eye.
We are at the end! The last passage is short and straightforward. Although it begins with a hint of some trouble for Timoleon, things are quickly resolved and Plutarch moves into a description of his last days in Syracuse.
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But because it is an ordinary matter, and of necessity, (as Simonides saith) that not only all larks have a tuft upon their heads, but also that in all cities there be accusers, saying where the people rule: there were two of those at Syracuse that continually made orations to the people, who did accuse accusers, the one called Laphystius, and the other Demaenetus. So this Laphystius appointing Timoleon a certain day to come and answer to his accusation before the people, thinking to convince him: the citizens began to mutiny, and would not in any case suffer the day of adjournment to take place. But Timoleon did pacify them, declaring unto them, that he had taken all the extreme pains and labor he had done, and had passed so many dangers, because every citizen and inhabitant of Syracuse, might frankly use the liberty of their laws. And another time Demaenetus, in open assembly of the people, reproving many things Timoleon did when he was general: Timoleon answered never a word, but only said unto the people, that he thanked the gods they had granted him the thing he had so oft requested of them in his prayers, which was, that he might once see the Syracusans have full power and liberty to say what they would. Now Timoleon in all mens' opinion, had done the noblest acts that ever Grecian captain did in his time, and had above deserved the fame great praise, and glory of all the noble exploits, which the rethoricians with all their eloquent orations persuaded the Grecians unto, in the open assemblies, and common feasts and plays of Greece, out of the which fortune delivered him safe and sound before the trouble of the civil wars that followed sone after: and moreover he made a great proof of his valiancy and knowledge in wars, against the barbarous people and tyrants, and had shewed himself also a just and merciful man unto all his friends, and generally to all the Grecians. And furthermore, seeing he won the most part of all his victorys and triumphs, with out the shedding of any one tear of his men, or that any of them mourned by his means, and also rid all Sicily of all the miseries and calamities reigning at that time, in less then eight years' space: he being now grown old, his sight first beginning in his age lost a little to fail him, shortly after he lost it altogether. This his sight. happened, not through any cause or occasion of sickness that came unto him, nor that fortune had casually done him that injury: but it was in my opinion, a disease inheritable to him by his parents, which by time came to lay hold on him also. For the voice went, that many of his kin in like case had also lost their sight, which by little and little with age, was clean taken from them. Howbeit Athanis the Historiographer writeth, that during the wars he had against Mamercus and Hippon, as he was in his camp at Mylles, there came a white spot in his eyes, that dimmed his sight somewhat: so that every man perceived that he should lose his sight altogether. Notwithstanding that, he did not raise his seige, but continued his enterprise, untill he took both the tyrants at last: and so soon as he returned to Syracuse again, he did put himself out of his office of general, praying the citizens to accept that he had already done, the rather because things were brought to so good pass, as they themselves could desire. Now, that the Syracusans patiently took this misfortune to be blind altogether, peradventure men may somewhat marvel at it: but this much being blind, more is to be wondered at, that the Syracusans after he was blind, did so much honor him, and acknowledge the good he had done them, that they went themselves to visit him oft, and brought strangers (that were travellers) to his house in the city, and also in the country, to make them see their benefactor, rejoicing and thinking themselves happy, that he had chosen to end his life with them, and that for this cause he had despised the glorious return that was prepared for him in Greece, for the great and happy victorys he had won in Sicily. But amongst many other things the law made Syracusans did, and ordained to honor him with, this of all to honor other me thinketh was the chiefest: that they made a perpetual law, so oft as they should have wars against foreign people, and not against their own countrymen, that they should ever choose a Corinthian for their general. It was a goodly thing also to see how they did honor him in the assemblies of their council. For if any trifling matter fell in question among them, they dispatched it of themselves: but if it were a thing that required great counsel and advice, they caused Timoleon to be sent for. So he was brought through the market place in his litter, into the Theater, where all the assembly of the people was, and carried in even so in his litter as he sat: and then the people did all salute him with one voice, and he them in like case. And after he had paused a while to hear the praises and blessings the whole assembly gave him, they did propound the matter doubtful to him, and he delivered his opinion upon the same: which being passed by the voices of the people, his servants carried him back again in his litter through the Theater, and the citizens did wait on him a little way with cries of joy, and clapping of hands, and that done, they did repair to dispatch common causes by themselves, as they did before. So his old age being thus entertained with such honour, and with the love and good will of every man, as of a common father to them all: in the end a sickness took him by the back, whereof he died. So the Syracusans had a certain time appointed them to prepare for his funeral, and their neighbours also thereabouts to come unto it. By reason whereof his funeral was so much more honorably performed in all things, and specially for that the people appointed the noblest young gentlemen of the city to carry his coffin upon their shoulders, richly furnished and set forth, whereon his body lay, and so did convey him through the place, where the palace and castle of the tyrant Dionysius had been, which then was razed to the ground. There accompanied his body also, many thousands of people, all crowned with garlands of flowers and apparreled in their best apparel: so as it seemed it had been the procession of some solemn feast, and all their words were praisings and blessings of the dead, with tears running down their cheeks, which was a good testimony they did not this as men that were glad to be discharged of the honor they did him, neither for that it was so ordained: but for the just sorrow and grief they took for his death, and for very hearty good love they did bear him. And lastly, the coffin being put upon the stack of wood where it should be burnt, one of the heralds that had the loudest voice, proclaimed the decree that was ordained by the people, the effect whereof was this: The people of Syracuse hath ordained, that this present body of Timoleon Corinthian, the Son of Timodemus, should be buried at the charges of the commonweal, unto the sum of two hundred Minas, and hath honored his memory with plays and games of music, with running of horses, and with other exercises of the body, which shall be celebrated yearly on the day of his death for evermore: and this, because he did drive the tyrants out of Sicily, for that he overcame the barbarous people, and because he replenished many great cities with inhabitants again, which the wars had left desolate and unhabited: and lastly, for that he had restored the Sicilians again to their liberty, and to live after their own laws. And afterwards, his tomb was built in the market place, about the which a certain time after, they builded cloisters and galleries to exercise the youth in, with exercise of their bodies, and the places so walled in, was called Timo- leontium: and so long as they did observe the laws, and civil policy he stablished amongst them, they lived long time in great continual prosperity.
Narration and Discussion:
After narrating this passage, discuss one or more of these questions:
Why was Timoleon quite willing to stand in court when he was accused?
What did Plutarch consider the greatest testimony to the Syracusans' admiration for Timoleon? In what other ways did they show respect for him in his last years? Describe his funeral procession and explain what that said about the peoples' attitude towards him.
In a prologue to Plutarch's Life of Timoleon (not included in these notes), Plutarch said that he saw the project of writing a life as receiving an honoured guest, and selecting from his actions "all that is noblest and worthiest to know. "Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have?" he said. Imagine you are interviewing Plutarch, the stage manager / storyteller of this Life, and ask for some final comments now that the play is over. Or write down your own impressions of Timoleon as Plutarch presented him. Is he the sort of person you would like to keep "inviting back" to be valued company in your mental or moral house? Why?