Plutarch's Life of Timoleon

Text taken from Thomas North and/or John Dryden

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Timoleon (ca. 411-337 B.C.)

Reading for Lesson One


It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies; but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life. Indeed, it can be compared to nothing but daily living and associating together; we receive, as it were, in our inquiry, and entertain each successive guest, view—

Their stature and their qualities,

and select from their actions all that is noblest and worthiest to know.

"Ah, and what greater pleasure can one have?"

…or what more effective means to one's moral improvement?


My method is, by the study of history, and by the familiarity acquired in writing, to habituate my memory to receive and retain images of the best and worthiest characters. I thus am enabled to free myself from any ignoble, base, or vicious impressions, contracted from the contagion of ill company that I may be unavoidably engaged in; by the remedy of turning my thoughts in a happy and calm temper to view these noble examples. Of this kind are those of Timoleon the Corinthian and Paulus Aemilius, to write whose lives is my present business: men equally famous, not only for their virtues, but success; insomuch that they have left it doubtful whether they owe their greatest achievements to good fortune, or their own prudence and conduct.

Part One

The affairs of the Syracusans, before Timoleon was sent into Sicily, were in this posture: after Dion had driven out the tyrant Dionysius I, he himself was slain by treachery; and thus the city by a continual change of governors, and a train of mischiefs that succeeded each other, became almost abandoned; while of the rest of Sicily, part was now utterly depopulated and desolate through long continuance of war, and most of the cities that had been left standing were in the hands of barbarians and soldiers out of employment, that were ready to embrace every turn of government.

Such being the state of things, Dionysius II [took] the opportunity, and in the tenth year of his banishment, by the help of some mercenary troops he had got together, [forced out the temporary ruler of Syracuse]; [recovered] all afresh; and again settled in his dominion. 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 [the fact] 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.

The better and more distinguished citizens [had gone] to Hicetas, ruler of the Leontines, put themselves under his protection, and chose him for their general in the war; not that he was much preferable to any open and avowed tyrant, but they had no other sanctuary at present, and it gave them some ground of confidence that he was of a Syracusan family, and had forces able to encounter those of Dionysius.

Part Two

In the meantime the Carthaginians appeared before Sicily with a great navy, watching when and where they might make a descent upon the island; and terror at this fleet made the Sicilians incline to send an embassy into Greece, to pray aid from the Corinthians, whom they confided in rather than others, not only upon the account of their near kindred, and the great benefits they had often received by trusting them, but 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 Greeks.

But Hicetas, who made it the business of his command not so much to deliver the Syracusans from other tyrants as to enslave them to himself, had already entered into some secret conferences with those of Carthage, while in public he commended the design of his Syracusan clients, and despatched ambassadors from himself, together with theirs, into Peloponnesus; not that he really desired any relief to come from there, but in case the Corinthians, as was likely enough, on account of the troubles of Greece and occupation at home, should refuse their assistance, hoping then he should be able with less difficulty to dispose and incline things for the Carthaginian interest, and so make use of these foreign pretenders, as instruments and auxiliaries for himself, either against the Syracusans or Dionysius, as occasion served. And that this was his full purpose, and intent, it appeared plainly soon after.

Reading for Lesson Two


Now when the Syracusan 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, since by good fortune there was nothing to molest them in their own country, where they were enjoying peace and leisure at that time, they readily and with one accord passed a vote for their assistance. And when they were deliberating about the choice of a captain for the expedition, and the magistrates were urging the claims of various aspirants for reputation, one of the crowd stood up and named 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.

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 favoured very much, and who joined to his valiantness and virtue marvellous good success in all his doings afterwards.

Part One (a flashback)

This Timoleon was born of noble parents, both by father and mother: his father was called Timodemus, and his mother Demariste; and as for himself, he was noted for his love of his country, and his gentleness of temper, except in his extreme hatred to tyrants and wicked men. His natural abilities for war were so happily tempered, that while a rare prudence might be seen in all the enterprises of his younger years, an equal courage showed itself in the last exploits of his declining age.

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, it 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 Timophanes.

It happened once in the battle fought by the Corinthians against the forces of Argos and Cleonae, that Timoleon served among the infantry, when Timophanes, commanding their cavalry, was brought into extreme danger; as his horse, being hurt, threw him on the ground in the midst of his enemies, while part of his companions dispersed at once in a panic, and the small number that remained, bearing up against a great multitude, had much ado to maintain any resistance. As soon, therefore, as Timoleon was aware of the accident, he ran hastily in to his brother's rescue, and covering the fallen Timophanes with his buckler, after having received abundance of darts, and several strokes by the sword upon his body and his armour, he at length with much difficulty obliged the enemies to retire, and brought off his brother alive and safe.

But the Corinthians, for fear of losing their city a second time, as they had once before, by admitting their allies, made a decree to maintain four hundred mercenaries for its security, and gave Timophanes the command over them. He, abandoning all honesty and regard of the trust the Corinthians reposed in him, [attempted] all the ways he could to make himself lord of the city; and having put many of the chiefest citizens to death without order of law, in the end he openly proclaimed himself king of Corinth.

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 unto one 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 them 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 he 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 the other two drawing out their swords, they slew Timophanes in the place.

Part Two (the flashback continues)

This was straight blown abroad through the city, and the better sort did greatly commend the noble mind and hatred of wrong 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 defense of his country; and now in Timophanes' seeking to make himself king, and to rule the same, he made him to be slain. Such people 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 marvellous 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.

With grief at this he grew so disordered in his mind and so disconsolate, that he determined to put an end to his perplexity with his life, by abstaining from all food. But through the care and diligence of his friends, who were every instant with him, and added force to their entreaties, he came to resolve and promise at last, that he would endure living, provided it might be in solitude, and remote from company; so that, quitting all civil transactions and commerce with the world for a long while after his first retirement, he never came into Corinth, but wandered up and down the fields, full of anxious and tormenting thoughts, and spent his time in desert places, at the farthest distance from society and human interaction.

So true it is that the minds of men are easily shaken and carried off from their own sentiments through the casual commendation or reproof of others, unless the judgments that we make, and the purposes we conceive, be confirmed by reason and philosophy, and thus obtain strength and steadiness. An action must not only be just and laudable in its own nature, but it must proceed likewise from solid motives and a lasting principle, that so we may fully and constantly approve the thing, and be perfectly satisfied in what we do; for otherwise, after having put our resolution into practice, we shall out of pure weakness come to be troubled at the performance, when the grace and godliness, which rendered it before so amiable and pleasing to us, begin to decay and wear out of our fancy; like greedy people, who, seizing on the more delicious morsels of any dish with a keen appetite, are presently disgusted when they grow full, and find themselves oppressed and uneasy now by what they before so greedily desired.

[omission for length and mature content]

Reading for Lesson Three

Part One

The grief of Timoleon at what had been done, whether it arose from commiseration of his brother's fate, or the reverence he bore his mother, so shattered and broke his spirits that for the space of almost twenty years he had not offered to concern himself in any honourable or public action. When, therefore, he was pitched upon for a general, and, joyfully, accepted as such by the suffrages of the people, Teleclides, who was at that time the most powerful and distinguished man in Corinth, began to exhort him that he would act now like a man of worth and gallantry: "For," said he, "if you do bravely in this service we shall believe that you delivered us from a tyrant; but if otherwise that you killed your brother."

While Timoleon was yet preparing to set sail, and enlisting soldiers to embark with him, letters came to the Corinthians from Hicetas, whereby it plainly appeared that Hicetas had carried two faces in one hood, and that he was become a traitor. For he had no sooner dispatched 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 lest the Corinthians would send aid before this were effected, 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 the Carthaginians against the tyrant Dionysius.

This letter being publicly read, if any had been cold and indifferent before as to the expedition in hand, the indignation they now conceived against Hicetas so exasperated and inflamed them all that they willingly contributed to supply Timoleon, and endeavoured with one accord to hasten his departure.

Part Two

When the vessels were equipped, and the soldiers every way provided for, the female priest of Proserpina had a dream or vision wherein the goddesses Ceres and Proserpina did appear, appareled like travelers to take a journey, and were heard to say that they were going to sail with Timoleon into Sicily; whereupon the Corinthians, having built a sacred galley, devoted it to them, and called it the Galley of the Goddesses.

Timoleon went in person to Delphi, where he sacrificed to Apollo, and, descending into the place of prophecy, was surprised with the following marvellous occurrence. A riband, with crowns and figures of victory embroidered upon it, slipped off from among the gifts that were there consecrated and hung up in the temple, and fell down directly upon his head, so that Apollo seemed already to crown him with success, and send him thence to conquer and triumph.

He took ship and sailed with seven galleys of Corinth, two of Corcyra, and a tenth which was furnished by the Leucadians; and when he was now entered into the deep by night, and carried with a prosperous gale, the heaven seemed all on a sudden to break open, and a bright spreading flame to issue forth from it, and hover over the ship he was in; and, having formed itself into a torch, not unlike those that are used in the mysteries, it began to steer the same course, and run along in their company, guiding them by its light to that quarter of Italy where they designed to go ashore. The soothsayers affirmed that this apparition agreed with the dream of the holy woman, since the goddesses were now visibly joining in the expedition, and sending this light from heaven before them, Sicily being thought sacred to Proserpina.

[short omission]

These early demonstrations of divine favour greatly encouraged his whole army; so that, making all the speed they were able, by a voyage across the open sea, they were soon passing along the coast of Italy.

Part Three

But when they came thither, the news they understood from Sicily put Timoleon in great perplexity, and did marvellously discourage the soldiers he brought with him.

For Hicetas, having already beaten Dionysius out of the field, and reduced most of the quarters of Syracuse itself, now hemmed him in and besieged him in the citadel and what is called the Island, whither he was fled for his last refuge; while the Carthaginians, by agreement, were to make it their business to hinder Timoleon from landing in any port of Sicily; so that he and his party being driven back, they might with ease and at their own leisure divide the island among themselves.

The Carthaginians, following his request, sent twenty of their galleys unto Rhegium, among which Hicetas' ambassadors were sent to Timoleon, with testimony of his doings: for they were fair flattering words, to cloak the wicked intent he purposed. For they willed Timoleon he should go himself alone ("if he thought good") unto Hicetas, to counsel him, 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 that he should send back his ships and soldiers to Corinth again, considering that the war was now brought to good pass, and the Carthaginians had blocked up the passage, determined to oppose them if they should try to force their way towards the shore.

So the Corinthians, at their arrival into the city of Rhegium, 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 Hicetas. For every one of them were marvellous angry with him, and were greatly afeared also for the poor Sicilians, whom too plainly they saw were left a prey unto Hicetas for reward of his treason, and to the Carthaginians for recompense of the tyranny which they suffered him to establish. For it seemed utterly impossible to force and overbear the Carthaginian ships that lay before them and were double their number, as also to vanquish the victorious troops which Hicetas had with him in Syracuse, to take the lead of which very troops they had undertaken their voyage.

Reading for Lesson Four

Part One

The case being thus, Timoleon, after some conference with the envoys of Hicetas and the Carthaginian captains, told them he should readily submit to their proposals: to what purpose would it be to refuse compliance? He was desirous only, before his return to Corinth, that what had passed between them in private might be solemnly declared before the people of Rhegium, a Greek city and a common friend to the parties. This, he said, would very much conduce to his own security and discharge; and they likewise would more strictly observe articles of agreement, on behalf of the Syracusans, which they had obliged themselves to in the presence of so many witnesses. The design of all this was only to divert their attention, while he got an opportunity of slipping away from their fleet; which the captains and governors of Rhegium did favour, and did seem to help him in: because they wished Sicily should fall into the hands of the Corinthians, and they 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. A succession of speakers came forward, addressing the people at great length, to the same effect, without bringing the subject to any conclusion, making way each for another and purposely spinning out the time, till the Corinthian galleys should get clear of the haven; the Carthaginian commanders being detained there without any suspicion, as also Timoleon still remained present, and gave signs as if he were just preparing to make an oration.

But upon secret notice that the rest of the galleys were already gone off, and that his alone remained waiting for him, by the help and concealment of those Rhegians that were about the hustings and favoured his departure, he made shift to slip away through the crowd, and running down to the port, set sail with all speed.

Part Two

And when he had overtaken his fleet, they went all safe together to land at the city of Tauromenium, which is in Sicily. There they were very well received by Andromachus, then ruler of the city. He was the father of Timaeus the historian, and incomparably the best of all those that bore sway in Sicily at that time, governing his citizens according to law and justice and openly professing an aversion and enmity to all tyrants; upon which account he gave Timoleon leave to muster up his troops there, and to make that city the seat of war, persuading the inhabitants to join their arms with the Corinthian forces, and assist them in the design of delivering Sicily from bondage.

But the captains of the Carthaginians that were at Rhegium, 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 Phoenicians stormed at having such a fine part played them. However, they despatched a messenger aboard one of their galleys to Tauromenium, who, after much blustering in the insolent barbaric way, and many menaces to Andromachus if he did not forthwith send the Corinthians off, stretched out his hand with the inside upward, and then turning it down again, threatened he would handle their city even so, and turn it topsy-turvy in as little time, and with as much ease. Andromachus fell a-laughing at him, and he did turn his hand up and down as the ambassador had done, and bid him hasten his own departure, unless he had a mind to see that kind of dexterity practiced first upon the galley which brought him hither.

Part Three

Hicetas was informed that Timoleon had landed in Sicily, 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 Hicetas, and the castle [held] 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 the Tauromenians, with a small power and less hope: because there were 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.

Nor did the other towns of Sicily confide in him, overpowered as they were with violence and outrage, and embittered against all that should offer to lead armies by the treacherous conduct chiefly of Callipus, an Athenian, and Pharax, a Lacedaemonian captain, both of whom, after giving out that the design of their coming was to introduce liberty and to depose tyrants, [became such tyrants] themselves, that the reign of former oppressors seemed to be a golden age in comparison, and the Sicilians began to consider those more happy who had expired in servitude, than any that had lived to see such a dismal freedom.

Looking, therefore, for no better usage from the Corinthian general, but imagining that it was only the same old course of things once more, specious pretenses and false professions to allure them by fair hopes and kind promises into the obedience of a new master, they all, with one accord, excepting the people of Adranum, suspected the exhortations, and rejected the overtures that were made them in his name.

The only exception was the city of Adranum (consecrated to the god Adranus, and greatly honoured and reverenced through all Sicily); which was then in dissension, one person against another, insomuch as one part of them took part with Hicetas and the Carthaginians, and another side of them sent unto Timoleon. It so fell out that these auxiliaries, striving which should be soonest, both arrived at Adranum about the same time.

Part Four

Hicetas brought with him at least five thousand men, while all the force Timoleon could make did not exceed twelve hundred. With these he marched out of Tauromenium, which was about three hundred and forty furlongs distance from that city. The first day he moved but slowly, and took up his quarters betimes after a short journey; but the day following he quickened his pace, and, having passed through much difficult ground, towards evening received advice that Hicetes was just approaching Adranum, and pitching his camp before it; upon which intelligence, his captains and other officers caused the vanguard to halt, that the army being refreshed, and having reposed a while, might engage the enemy with better heart.

But Timoleon, coming up in haste, desired them not to stop for that reason, but rather use all possible diligence to surprise the enemy, whom probably they would now find in disorder, as having lately ended their march and being taken up at present in erecting tents and preparing supper; which he had no sooner said, but laying hold of his buckler and putting himself in the front, he led them on as it were to certain victory. The soldiers, seeing this, followed at his heels with like courage.

They were now within less than thirty furlongs of Adranum, which they quickly traversed, and immediately fell in upon the enemy, who were seized with confusion, and began to retire at their first approaches; one consequence of which was that, amidst so little opposition, and so early and general a flight, there were not many more than three hundred slain, and about twice the number made prisoners. Their camp and baggage, however, was all taken.

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. 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 money, did also seek his friendship.

Reading for Lesson Five

Part One

Dionysius himself, being now grown desperate, and well-nigh forced to surrender, despising Hicetas who had been thus shamefully baffled, and admiring the valour of Timoleon, found means to advertise him and his Corinthians that he [Dionysius] should be content to deliver up himself and the citadel into their hands.

Timoleon, gladly embracing this unlooked-for advantage, sent Euclides and Telemachus, two Corinthian captains, to take possession of the castle, with four hundred men: not all at a time, nor openly (for it was impossible, the enemies lying in wait in the haven); but by small companies, and by stealth, he conveyed them all into the castle. And so they took possession of the fortress and the palace of Dionysius, with all the stores and ammunition he had prepared and laid up to maintain the war. They found a good number of horses, every variety of engines, a multitude of darts, and weapons that had been gathered together of long time to arm seventy thousand men. Moreover, besides all this, there were two thousand soldiers, whom (with the other things mentioned) Dionysius delivered up into the hands of Timoleon.

Dionysius himself, putting his treasure aboard, and taking a few friends, sailed away unobserved by Hicetas; and being brought to the camp of Timoleon, there first appeared in the humble dress of a private person, and was shortly after sent to Corinth with a single ship and a small sum of money.

Part Two

Dionysius was born and educated in the most splendid court and the most absolute monarchy that ever was, which he held and kept up for the space of ten years succeeding his father's death. He had, after Dion's expedition, spent twelve other years in a continual agitation of wars and contests, and great variety of fortune, during which time all the mischiefs he had committed in his former reign were more than repaid by the ills he himself then suffered [omission]; the particulars of which are more exactly given in the Life of Dion.

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. Others, pitying 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. Fortune 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, loitering about perhaps in the fish-market; 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 pretending to instruct the singing women of the theatre, and seriously disputing with them about the measure and harmony of pieces of music that were performed there.

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 [omission]. Other are of opinion that 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 [omission].

Some notwithstanding have gathered together certain of his answers, which do testify that he did not do 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 flee 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, than to go to Corinth, our head city."

Another time, being at Corinth, a stranger [omission] asked him, in derision, what benefit he got by Plato's wisdom and knowledge. As to the benefit of it, Dionysius answered him again: "How thinkest thou, hath it done good, when thou seest me bear so patiently this change of fortune?" [Dryden: "Do you think I have made no profit of his philosophy when you see me bear my change of fortune as I do?"] And when Aristoxenus, the musician, and several others, desired to know how Plato offended him, and what had been the ground of his displeasure with him: he answered that, of the many evils attaching to the condition of sovereignty, the one greatest infelicity was that none of those who were accounted friends would venture to speak freely, or tell the plain truth; and that by means of such he had been deprived to Plato's kindness.

 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 people come to tyrants, to show 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 when Philip of Macedon, at a drinking party, began to speak in banter about the verses and tragedies which Dionysius his father had made; making as though he wondered at them, how possibly he could have leisure to do them: Dionysius 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." [Dryden: "It was at those leisurable hours, which such as you and I, and those we call happy men, bestow upon our cups."]

Plato had not the opportunity to see Dionysius at Corinth, being already dead before he came thither. But Diogenes of Sinope, 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 "I thank you, Diogenes, for your condolences." "Condole with you!" replied Diogenes. "Do you not suppose that, on the contrary, I am indignant that such a slave as you, who, if you had your due, should have been let alone to grow old and die in the state of tyranny, as your father did before you, should now enjoy the ease of private persons, and be here to sport and frolic in our society?"


Such anecdotes will not, I conceive, be thought either foreign to my purpose of writing Lives, or unprofitable in themselves, by such readers as are not in too much haste, or busied and taken up with other concerns.

Reading for Lesson Six

Part One

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 citadel of Syracuse in his possession, and sent Dionysius as an exile into Peloponnesus.

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 stay for a better opportunity: in the meantime, they bestowed their leisure in doing a notable good act. For the Thurians, going out to war against their Bruttian enemies, left their city in charge with these Corinthian strangers, who defended it as carefully as if it had been their own country, and [then] faithfully resigned it up again.

Part Two

Hicetas, all this while, did besiege the castle of Syracuse, preventing in every way possible that there should come no provisions by sea unto the Corinthians that kept within the castle. He had engaged also, and despatched towards Adranum, two unknown foreigners to assassinate Timoleon, who at no time kept any standing guard about his person, and was then altogether secure, diverting himself without any apprehension among the citizens of the place, it being a festival in honour of their gods. The two men that were sent, having casually heard that Timoleon was about to sacrifice, came directly into the temple with daggers under their cloaks, and pressing in among the crowd, by little and little got up close to the altar; but, as they were just looking for a sign from each other to begin the attempt, a third person struck one of them over the head with a sword, upon whose sudden fall neither he that gave the blow, nor the partisan of him that received it, kept their stations any longer; but the one, making way with his bloody sword, put no stop to his flight till he gained the top of a certain lofty precipice; while the other, laying hold of the altar, besought Timoleon to spare his life, and he would reveal to him the whole conspiracy. His pardon being granted, he confessed that both himself and his dead companion were both hired and sent to kill him.

While this discovery was made, he that killed the other conspirator had been fetched down from his sanctuary of the rock, loudly and often protesting, as he came along, that there was no injustice in the fact, as he had only taken righteous vengeance for his father's blood, whom this man had murdered before in the city of Leontini; the truth of which was attested by several there present, who could not choose but wonder too at the strange dexterity of Fortune's operations, the facility with which she makes one event the spring and motion to something wholly different, uniting every scattered accident and loose particular and remote action, and interweaving them together to serve her purpose; so that things that in themselves seem to have no connection or interdependence whatsoever, become in her hands, so to say, the end and the beginning of each other.

The Corinthians, examining this matter thoroughly, 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 they 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.

Part Three

But Hicetas 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 friendship by stealth. Therefore, now laying aside his former nicety, he called in Mago, their admiral, with his whole navy, who presently set sail, and seized upon the port with a formidable fleet of at least a hundred and fifty vessels, landing there sixty thousand foot soldiers, which were all lodged within the city of Syracuse; so that, in all men's opinion, the time anciently talked of and long expected, wherein Sicily should be subjugated by barbarians, was now come to its fatal period. For in all their preceding wars and many desperate conflicts with Sicily, the Carthaginians had never been able, before this, to take Syracuse; whereas Hicetas now receiving them and putting them into their hands, you might see it become now, as it were, a camp of barbarians.

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 straitly 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. Timoleon made shift to relieve them in these [difficulties], sending corn from Catana by small fishing-boats and little skiffs, which commonly gained a passage through the Carthaginian galleys in times of storm, stealing up when the blockading ships were driven apart and dispersed by the stress of weather; which Mago and Hicetas observing, they agreed to fall upon Catana, from whence these supplies were brought in to the besieged; and taking with them the best soldiers of all their army, they departed from Syracuse, and sailed towards Catana.

Part Four

Now in the mean space, Neon the Corinthian, captain of those that kept the citadel, taking notice that the enemies who stayed there behind were very negligent and careless in keeping guard, made a sudden sally upon them as they lay scattered, and, killing some and putting others to flight, he took and possessed himself of that quarter which they called Acradina, and was thought to be the strongest and most impregnable part of Syracuse, a city made up and compacted, as it were, of several towns put together. Having thus stored himself with corn and money, he did not abandon the place, nor retire again into the castle, but fortifying the precincts of Acradina, and joining it by works to the citadel, he undertook the defense of both.

Now were Mago and Hicetas 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 which they had yet left in their hands.

Reading for Lesson Seven

Part One

These successes, indeed, were such as might leave Foresight and Courage a pretence still of disputing it with Fortune, which contributed most to the result. But the next following event can scarcely be ascribed to anything but pure Felicity.

The Corinthian soldiers who stayed at Thurii, partly for fear of the Carthaginian galleys which lay in wait for them under the command of Hanno, and partly because of tempestuous weather which had lasted for many days, and rendered the sea dangerous, took a resolution to march by land over the Bruttian territories, and what with persuasion and force together, made good their passage through those barbarians to the city of Rhegium, the sea being still rough and raging as before.

But Hanno, not expecting the Corinthians would venture out, and supposing it would be useless to wait there any longer, thought with himself that he had devised a marvellous fine policy to deceive the enemies. Thereupon he willed all his men to put garlands of flowers of triumph upon their heads, and therewithal also made them dress up, and adorned his galleys with bucklers, of both the Greek and Carthaginian make. 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.

While he was thus trifling and playing his tricks before Syracuse, the two thousand Corinthians, now come as far as Rhegium, observing the coast clear, and that the raging seas were by miracle (as it were) made of purpose calm for them: they took seas forthwith in such little barks and fishing boats as they found ready, in which they went into Sicily in such complete safety and in such an extraordinary calm, that they drew their horses by the reins, swimming along by them as the vessels went across. When they were all landed, Timoleon came to receive them, and by their means at once obtained possession of Messina, from whence he marched in good order to Syracuse, trusting more to his [recent] prosperous achievements than his present strength, as the whole army he had then with him did not exceed the number of four thousand.

Notwithstanding, Mago, hearing of his coming, quaked for fear, and doubted the more upon the following 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. The mercenary soldiers that served on both sides were wont to follow the sport together at their vacant hours, and upon any cessation of arms; who being all Greeks, and having no cause of private enmity to each other, as they would venture bravely in fight, so in times of truce used to meet and converse amicably together.

And at this present time, while engaged about this common business of fishing, they fell into talk together; and some expressing their admiration of the neighbouring sea, and others telling how much they were taken with the convenience and commodiousness of the buildings and public works, one of the Corinthian party took occasion to demand of the others:

 "Is it possible that you that be Grecians born, and have so goodly a city [meaning Syracuse] 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? Whereas you should rather wish that there were many Sicilies betwixt them and Greece. Have ye so little consideration or judgment 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 Hicetas' tyranny: who, if he had been a wise and skillful 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 honour and authority of the Corinthians and Timoleon, as he could reasonably have desired, and that with all their favour and good will?"

The Greeks that were in pay with Hicetas, noising these discourses about their camp, gave Mago some ground to suspect, as indeed he had long sought for a pretense to be gone, that there was treachery contrived against him; so that, although Hicetes entreated him to tarry, and made it appear how much stronger they were than the enemy, yet, conceiving they came far more short of Timoleon in respect of courage and fortune than they surpassed him in number, he presently went aboard and set sail for Africa, letting Sicily escape out of his hands with dishonour to himself, and for such uncertain causes, that no human reason could give an account of his departure.

Part Two

The next day after Mago was gone, Timoleon came up before the city in array for a battle. But when he and his company heard of this sudden flight, and saw the docks all empty, they then began to jest at Mago's cowardliness, and in mockery caused proclamation to be made through the city that a reward would be given to anyone who could bring them tidings whither the Carthaginian fleet had conveyed itself from them.

However, Hicetas resolving to fight it out alone, and not quitting his hold of the city, but sticking close to the quarters he was in possession of, places that were well fortified and not easy to be attacked, Timoleon divided his forces into three parts, and fell himself upon the side where the river Anapas ran, which was most strong and difficult of access; and he commanded those that were led by Isias, a Corinthian captain, to make their assault from the post of Acradina, while Dirachus and Demaretus, that brought him the last supply from Corinth, were, with a third division, to attempt the quarter called Epipolae. A considerable impression being made from every side at once, the soldiers of Hicetas were beaten off and put to flight; and this—that the city came to be taken by storm, and fall suddenly into their hands, upon the defeat and rout of the enemy—we must in all justice ascribe to the valour of the assailants and the wise conduct of their general. 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 favour 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, than to praise and commend his valiantness.

For the fame of this great exploit did in a 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 withal that they were safely arrived there, and that they had gotten the victory of their enemies: so prosperous was their journey, and Fortune so speedily did favour his noble acts.

Reading for Lesson Eight

Part One

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 pickaxes and mattocks, to help to dig down and overthrow the fort of the tyrants. When they all came up with one accord, looking upon that order and that day as the surest foundation of their liberty, they not only pulled down the castle, but overturned the palaces and monuments adjoining, and whatever else might preserve any memory of former 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, and did suppress all tyrannical power.

However, he saw he had won a city that had no inhabitants, which wars before had consumed, and fear of tyranny 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, therefore, with the Syracusans that remained, considering this vast desolation, and how little hope there was to have it otherwise supplied, thought good 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. And besides this, they expected to be involved in a greater war from Africa, having news brought them that Mago had killed himself, and that the Carthaginians, out of rage for his ill-conduct in the late expedition, had caused his body to be nailed upon a cross; and that they were raising a mighty force, with design to make their descent upon Sicily the next summer.

Part Two

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 tyranny 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, promising 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 (as Athanis reports) their entire body amounted now to sixty thousand men.

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 to 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 [the statues]. For they were solemnly 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, honouring his memory, because of a great victory he had won of the Carthaginians, near the city of Himera; but they condemned all the rest to be taken away out of every corner of the city, and to be sold.

Part Three

Thus began the city of Syracuse to replenish again, and by little and little to recover itself, many people coming from all parts to dwell there. Thereupon Timoleon thought to set all the other cities at liberty also, and utterly to root out all the tyrants of Sicily: and to obtain his purpose, he went to make wars with them at their own doors. The first he went against was Hicetes, whom he compelled to forsake the league of the Carthaginians, and to promise also that he would raze all the fortresses he kept, and to live like a private man within the city of the Leontines [omission for length]. When he had brought this to pass, he returned forthwith to Syracuse about the establishment of the commonweal, assisting Cephalus and Dionysius, two notable men sent from Corinth to reform the laws, and to help them to stablish the goodliest ordinances for their commonweal.

Reading for Lesson Nine

Part One

And now in the meantime, because the soldiers had a mind to get something of their enemies, and to avoid idleness, he sent them out abroad to a country subject to the Carthaginians, under the charge of Dinachus and Demaretus: where they made many little towns rebel against the barbarous people, and did not only live in abundance of wealth, but they gathered money together also to maintain the wars.

Meantime, the Carthaginians landed at the promontory of Lilybaeum, bringing with them an army of seventy thousand men on board two hundred galleys, besides a thousand other vessels laden with engines of battery, chariots, corn, and other military stores, as if they did not intend to manage the war by piecemeal and in parts as heretofore, but to drive the Greeks altogether and at once out of all 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 Hasdrubal and 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 although there were a marvellous great number of them within the city, scant three thousand of them had the hearts to arm themselves, and to go to the field with Timoleon. The foreigners, serving for pay, were not above four thousand in all, and about a thousand of these grew faint-hearted by the way, and forsook Timoleon in his march towards the enemy. They said that Timoleon was out of his wits and more rash than his years required, to undertake, with five thousand footmen and a thousand horse, to go against seventy thousand men: and besides, to carry that small force he had to defend himself withal, eight great days' journey from Syracuse. So, that if it chanced they were compelled to flee, they would have no retreat, nor any burial if they fell upon it. Nevertheless, 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 Crimissus, where he understood he should meet with the Carthaginians.

As he was marching up an ascent, from the top of which they expected to have a view of the army and of the strength of the enemy, there met him by chance a train of mules loaded with parsley; which his soldiers conceived to be an ominous occurrence or ill-boding token, because this is the herb with which we not unfrequently adorn the sepulchers of the dead; and there is a proverb derived from the custom, used of one who is dangerously sick, that "he has need of nothing but parsley."

 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 the occasion: he told them that the garland of itself came to offer them victory beforehand. "For," said he, "the Corinthians do crown them that win the Isthmian games (which are celebrated in their country) with garlands of parsley." And at that time also even in the solemn Isthmian games, they used the garland of parsley for reward and token of victory; and at this present it is also used in the games of Nemea [omission].

Part Two

Now when Timoleon had thus encouraged his men, as you have heard before, he took of this parsley, 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 then, observing also two eagles on the wing towards them, one of which bore a snake struck through with her talons, and the other, as she flew, uttered a loud cry indicating boldness and assurance, at once showed them to the soldiers, who did then all together with one voice call upon the gods for help.

It was now about the beginning of the summer (and towards the end of the month called Thargelion, not far from the solstice), 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 marvellous confused noise of men's voices, as if 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. 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 Crimissus, and the enemies also, passing over it, first with their formidable four-horse chariots of war, and then ten thousand footmen bearing white shields, whom they guessed to be all Carthaginians, from the splendour of their arms, and the slowness and order of their march.

And when now the troops of various other nations, flowing in behind them, began to throng for passage in a tumultuous and unruly manner, Timoleon, perceiving that the river gave them opportunity to single off whatever number of their enemies they had a mind to engage at once, and bidding his soldiers observe how their forces were divided into two separate bodies by the intervention of the stream, some being already over, and others still to ford it, gave Demaretus command to fall in upon the Carthaginians with his horse, and disturb their ranks before they should be drawn up into form of battle; and coming down into the plain himself, forming his right and left wing of other Sicilians, intermingling only a few strangers in each, he placed the native of Syracuse in the middle, with the stoutest mercenaries he had about his own person; and waiting a little to observe the actions of his horse, when he saw they were not only hindered from grappling with the Carthaginians by the armed chariots that ran to and fro before the army, but forced continually to wheel about to escape having their ranks broken, and so to repeat their charges anew. 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 than 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 loud and sensibly.

When his soldiers quickly gave an echo to it, and besought him to lead them on without any further delay, he made a sign to the horse, that they should draw off from the front where the chariots were, and pass sidewards to attack their enemies in the flank; then, making his vanguard firm by joining man to man and target to target, he caused the trumpet to sound, and so bore in upon the Carthaginians.

Reading for Lesson Ten

Part One

The Carthaginians, for their part, stoutly received and sustained Timoleon's first onset; and having their bodies armed with breast-plates of iron, and helmets of brass on their heads, besides great bucklers to cover and secure them, they could easily repel the charge of the Greek spears.

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 then fell upon the valley where the battle was fought a marvellous extreme shower of rain, fierce violent winds, and hail withal. All this tempest was upon the Grecians' backs, but discharged itself in the very faces of the barbarians, the rain beating on them, and the lightning dazzling them without cessation; annoyances that in many ways distressed at any rate the inexperienced, who had not been used to such hardships; and, in particular, the claps of thunder, and the noise of the rain and hail beating on their arms, kept them from hearing the commands of their officers.

Moreover, the mud did as much annoy the Carthaginians, because they were not nimble in their armour, but heavily armed as we have told you; and besides that, also, when the plates of their coats were thoroughly 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 mud with their heavy armour, up they could rise no more.

Furthermore, the River Crimissus being risen high through the great rage of waters, and also for the multitude of people that passed over it, 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 find their 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 many 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.

Great numbers were overtaken in the plain, and put to the sword there; and many of them, as they were making their way back through the river, falling foul upon others that were yet coming over, were borne away and overwhelmed by the waters; but the major part, attempting to get up the hill so as to make their escape, were intercepted and destroyed by the light-armed troops. It is said that, of ten thousand who lay dead after the fight, three thousand, at least, were Carthaginian citizens; a heavy loss and great grief to their countrymen; those that fell being men inferior to none among them as to birth, wealth, or reputation. Nor do their records mention that so many native Carthaginians were cut off before in any one battle [omission].

The Greeks easily discovered of what condition and account the slain were by the richness of their spoils. For they that spoiled them stood not trifling about getting of copper and iron together, because they found gold and silver enough. Passing over the river they became masters of their camp and carriages. As for captives, a great many of them were stolen away and sold privately by the soldiers; but about five thousand were brought in and delivered up for the benefit of the public; two hundred of their chariots of war were also taken.

The tent of Timoleon then presented a most glorious and magnificent appearance, being heaped up and hung round with every variety of spoils and military ornaments, among which were a thousand breastplates of rare workmanship and beauty, and bucklers to the number of ten thousand. The victors being but few to strip so many that were vanquished, and having such valuable spoils to occupy them, it was the third day after the fight before they could erect and finish the trophy of their conquest.

Then Timoleon sent unto Corinth, with the news of this overthrow, the fairest armours 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 give thanks for their victory.

Part Two

Having done this, Timoleon left his hired soldiers in the enemy's country to drive and carry away all they could throughout the subject-territory of Carthage, and so marched with the rest of his army to Syracuse, where he issued an edict for banishing the thousand mercenaries who had basely deserted him before the battle, and obliged them to quit the city before sunset. They, sailing into Italy, lost their lives there by the hands of the Bruttians, in spite of a public assurance of safety previously given them; thus receiving, from the divine power, a just reward of their own treachery.

Mamercus, however, the tyrant of Catana, and Hicetas, after all, either envying Timoleon the glory of his exploits, or fearing him as one that would keep no agreement or have any peace with tyrants, made a league with the Carthaginians, and pressed them much to send a new army and commander into Sicily, unless they would be content to hazard all and to be wholly ejected out of that island.

And in consequence of this, Gisgo was despatched with a navy of seventy sail. He took numerous Greek mercenaries also into pay, that being the first time they had ever been enlisted for the Carthaginian service; but then it seems the Carthaginians began to admire them, as men invincible, and the best soldiers of the world.

Part Three (optional)

Moreover, the inhabitants of the territory of Messina, having made a secret conspiracy amongst themselves, did slay four hundred men that Timoleon had sent unto them; and in the territories subject unto the Carthaginians, near unto a place they call Hierae, there was another ambush laid for Euthymus the Leucadian, so as himself and all his soldiers were cut in pieces. Howbeit the loss of them made Timoleon's doings accounted all the more remarkable, as these four hundred were the men that, with Philomelus of Phocis and Onomarchus, had forcibly broken into the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and were partakers with them in the sacrilege; so that being hated and shunned by all, as persons under a curse, they had been constrained to wander about in Peloponnesus; when, for want of others, Timoleon was glad to take them into service in his expedition for Sicily, where they were successful in whatever enterprise they attempted under his conduct.

But now, when all the important dangers were past, on his sending them out for the relief and defense of his party in several places, they perished and were destroyed at a distance from him, not all together, but in small parties; and the vengeance which was destined for them, so accommodating itself to the good fortune which guarded Timoleon as not to allow any harm or prejudice for good men to arise from the punishment of the wicked. The benevolence and kindness which the gods had for Timoleon was thus as distinctly recognized in his disasters as in his successes.

[omission for length]

Reading for Lesson Eleven

Part One

After this, while Timoleon marched to Calauria, Hicetas made an inroad into the borders of Syracuse, where he carried away a marvellous great spoil. And having done much mischief and havoc, he returned back again, and came by Calauria to spite Timoleon, knowing well enough he had at that time but few men about him. Timoleon suffered him to pass by, but followed him afterwards with his horsemen and lightest armed footmen. Hicetas, understanding that, passed over the river called Damyrias, and so stayed on the other side as though he would fight, trusting to the swift running of the river and the height and steepness of the bank on each side, giving advantage enough to make him confident.

A strange contention and dispute, meantime, among the officers of Timoleon a little delayed the battle; none of them was willing to let another pass over before him to engage the enemy; each man claiming it as a right to venture first and begin the onset; so that their fording was likely to be tumultuous and without order, a mere general struggle which should be the foremost.

Timoleon, therefore, desiring to decide the quarrel by lot, took a ring from each of the pretenders, which he cast into his own cloak, and, after he had shaken all together, the first he drew out had, by good fortune, the figure of a trophy engraved as a seal upon it; at the sight of which the young captains all shouted for joy, and, without waiting any longer to see how chance would determine it for the rest, took every man his way through the river with all the speed they could make, and fell to blows with the enemies, who were not able to bear up against the violence of their attack, but fled in haste and left their weapons behind them all alike, and a thousand dead upon the place.

And within a few days after, Timoleon, leading his army to the city of the Leontines, took Hicetas alive there, with his son Eupolemus, and Euthymus, the general of his horsemen; who were delivered into his hands by Hicetas' own soldiers. Hicetas and his son were then executed as tyrants and traitors; and Euthymus, though a brave man, and one of singular courage, could obtain no mercy, because he was charged with certain injurious words he spoke against the Corinthians.

[Omission: the murder by the Syracusans of the wives and daughters of Hicetas, in revenge for a similar act against Dion. Mamercus (the tyrant of Catana) continued to conspire against Timoleon but was eventually caught and executed.]

Part Two

Thus did Timoleon cut the nerves of tyranny and put a period to the wars; and, whereas, at his first entering into Sicily, the island was as it were become wild again, and was hateful to the very natives on account of the evils and miseries they suffered there, he so civilized and restored it, and rendered it so desirable to all men, that even strangers now came by sea to inhabit those towns and places which their own citizens had formerly forsaken and left desolate. Agrigentum and Gela, two great cities that had been ruined and laid waste by the Carthaginians after the Attic war, were then peopled again, the one by Megellus and Pheristus from Elea, the other by Gorgus from the island of Ceos, partly with new settlers, partly with the old inhabitants whom they collected again from various parts; to all of whom Timoleon not only afforded a secure and peaceful abode after so obstinate a war, but was further so zealous in assisting and providing for them that he was honoured among them as their father and founder. And this his good love and favour 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 divided, 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.

[short omission]

Part Three

For as the poetry of Antimachus, and painting of Dionysius, the artists of Colophon, though full of force and vigour, yet appeared to be strained and elaborate in comparison with the pictures of Nicomachus and the verses of Homer, which, besides, their general strength and beauty, have the peculiar charm of seeming to have been executed with perfect ease and readiness; 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 Timoleon himself doth wisely impute it unto his good hap and favourable fortune (or the favour of Fortune). For in letters he wrote unto his familiar friends at Corinth, and in some other orations he made to the people of Syracuse: he [said] 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 honour and dignity of the name.

And having built 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 which the Syracusans had selected for him, as a special reward and monument of his brave exploits, granting him together with it the most agreeable and beautiful piece of land in the whole country, where he kept his residence for the most part, and enjoyed a private life with his wife and children, who came to him from Corinth. For he returned thither no more, unwilling to be concerned in the broils and tumults of Greece, or to expose himself to public envy (the fatal mischief which great commanders continually run into, from the insatiable appetite for honours and authority); but wisely chose to spend the remainder of his days in Sicily, and there partake of the blessings he himself had procured, the greatest of which was to behold so many cities flourish, and so many thousands of people live happy through his means.

Reading for Lesson Twelve


Part One

As, however, not only, as Simonides says, "on every lark must grow a crest," but also in every democracy there must spring up a false accuser, so was it at Syracuse: two of their popular spokesmen, Laphystius and Demaenetus by name, fell to slander Timoleon. The former of whom requiring him to put in sureties that he would answer to an indictment that would be brought against him, Timoleon would not suffer the citizens, who were incensed at this demand, to oppose it or hinder the proceeding, since he of his own accord had been, he said, at all that trouble, and run so many dangerous risks for this very end and purpose, that everyone who wished to try matters by law should freely have recourse to it.

And when Demaenetus, in a full audience of the people, laid several things to his charge which had been done while he was general, he made no other reply to him, but only said he was much indebted to the gods for granting the request he had so often made them, namely, that he might live to see the Syracusans enjoy that liberty of speech which they now seemed to be masters of.

Now Timoleon, in all men's opinion, had done the noblest acts that ever a Grecian captain did in his time, and had above deserved the fame and glory of all the noble exploits which the rhetoricians 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 soon after; and moreover he made a great proof of his valiancy and knowledge in wars, against the barbarous people and tyrants, and had [shown] 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 victories and triumphs without the shedding of any one tear of his men, or that any of them mourned by his means; and that he also rid all Sicily of all the miseries and calamities reigning at that time, in less than eight years' space: he being now grown old, his sight first beginning a little to fail him, shortly after he lost it altogether. Not that he had done anything himself which might occasion this, or was he deprived of his sight by any outrage of Fortune; it seems rather to have been some inbred and hereditary weakness that was founded in natural causes, which by length of time came to discover itself. For it is said, that several of his kindred and family were subject to the like gradual decay, and lost all use of their eyes, as he did, in their declining years.

[short omission]

Now, that he patiently took this misfortune to be blind altogether, peradventure men may somewhat marvel at it: but this much more is to be wondered at, that the Syracusans after he was blind, did so much honour him, and acknowledge the good he had done them, that they went themselves to visit him oft, and brought strangers (that were travelers) 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 victories he had won in Sicily. But amongst many other things the Syracusans did, and ordained to honour him with, this of all other methinketh was the chiefest: that they made a perpetual law [that] 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 honour 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 marketplace in his litter, into the theatre, 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 theatre, and the citizens did wait on him a little way with cries of joy, and clapping of hands, and that done, they did [return] to dispatch common causes by themselves, as they did before.

Part Two

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.

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 honourably 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 Dionysius stood before they were demolished by Timoleon.

There attended on the solemnity several thousands of men and women, all crowned with flowers, and arrayed in fresh and clean attire, which made it look like the procession of a public festival; 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 honour 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 the Corinthian, the Son of Timodemus, should be buried at the charges of the commonweal, unto the sum of two hundred minas; and hath honoured 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 allowed them to live after their own laws."

Besides this, they made a tomb for him in the marketplace, which they afterwards built round with colonnades, and attached to it places of exercise for the young men; and they gave it the name of the Timoleonteum. And keeping to that form and order of civil policy and observing those laws and constitutions which he left them, they lived themselves a long time in great prosperity.

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