Study Guide for Plutarch's Life of Timoleon
Text by Thomas North
Study Guide by Anne White
Timoleon (ca. 411-337 B.C.)
Timoleon was a Corinthian citizen who had given up public life after painful personal losses. Nevertheless, when the city needed someone to lead a military mission, he was the person suggested. Timoleon was exhorted (or blackmailed) into taking up the challenge; and from that time on, he became famous "not only for virtues, but for success."
Syracuse was a Corinthian colony on the island of Sicily; the name refers both to the city and to the region it ruled. This may seem confusing since Sicily now belongs to Italy rather than Greece, but in the ancient world it was part of the region called Magna Graecia, "Great Greece." The Roman statesman Cicero, three hundred years later, called Syracuse "the most beautiful city in Magna Graecia."
Syracuse was ruled by tyrant kings (see below), most recently the cruel Dionysius the Elder (not part of this Life) and then his son, Dionysius the Younger (ca. 397-343 B.C., referred to here as Dionysius). To make things even more confusing, Dionysius (the Younger) had been exiled and replaced by his former mentor Dion (the subject of Plutarch's Life of Dion); but he had ousted Dion and returned to power three years later. With a weak ruler and an unhappy colony, Syracuse seemed ripe for attack by other powers, such as neighbouring king Hicetas and the Carthaginians.
What is a tyrant? The idea of a "tyrant king" in the ancient world was somewhat different from the way we use the word "tyrant" today. It meant an absolute ruler, but it wasn't a judgment about whether he was good or evil. In this case, though, the "tyrants" had gone too far; so the Corinthians were asked to restore law and liberty to the colony.
Maps and Places
Most of the action of the story takes place in Sicily, the large island across the Strait of Messina from the mainland city of Rhegium (now Reggio Calabria) which is on the "toe" of Italy's "boot." Syracuse was/is located near the southeastern corner of the island. The "fort" or "castle" of Syracuse was located on the isle of Ortygia, right across from the larger island.
The city of Leontini was not considered part of Syracuse but was subject to its rule. Its tyrant-king at the time was Hicetas.
Another city of interest is Catana (also Catina or Catania), at the foot of Mount Etna, which was ruled by Mamercus.
Across the Mediterranean Sea (in present-day Tunisia) was Carthage, a powerful city peopled by Phoenicians who spoke the Canaanite language. There were also Phoenician/Carthaginian colonies on Sicily, such as Lilybaeum.
Although the story concerns a Greek colony, the only Greek city to note is Corinth, located on the isthmus between the northern and southern parts of Greece. The southern half is the Peloponnesus.
Timoleon's Good Fortune
It is no accident that Plutarch speaks of Fortune as if she were a character in the story. Fortune (or Fortuna) was a Roman deity, the daughter of Jupiter; her Greek equivalent was Tyche. A modern-day derivative might be "Lady Luck." Fortune did not equal random chance, however; her blessings were said to be tied to one's virtue.
Was Timoleon married? We are told in Lesson Eleven that he had a wife and children, and that he sent for them when he eventually settled in Sicily; but no more than that.
A note on translation and spelling
The translation used is Thomas North's with some help from John Dryden [in brackets]. I have added more than the usual number of clarifying words, such as extra pronouns [also in brackets]. I have tried to use the most common spellings for names and places.
Top Ten Terms in Timoleon
If you recognize these words, you're well on your way to mastering North's vocabulary. (They will not be noted in the lessons.)
1. Choler: anger, temper
2. Divers: several
3. Footmen: foot soldiers
4. Kin: family, relatives
5. Mean (adj.): lowly, without status
6. Target: shield
7. Repair unto: go to, turn to
8. Stay: delay, detain, stop
9. Strange: foreign. Soldiers that are strangers are foreign mercenaries (soldiers employed by any army that will pay them).
10. Victuals: food. A victualler is a food supplier or grocer.
Prologue to the Life of Timoleon (included for older students)
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 iniquity, and entertain each successive guest, view--
"Their stature and their qualities,"
and select from the actions all that is noblest and worthiest to know.
"Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have?"
or what more effective means to one's moral improvement? Democritus tells us we ought to pray that of the phantasms appearing in the circumambient air, such may present themselves to us as are propitious, and that we may rather meet with those that are agreeable to our natures and are good than the evil and unfortunate; which is simply introducing into philosophy a doctrine untrue in itself, and leading to endless superstitutions. My method, on the contrary, 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. (John Dryden's translation)
Like Shakespeare writing a play, Plutarch begins the Life of Timoleon by setting the stage and introducing supporting characters. Lesson One shows why a main character exactly like Timoleon was badly needed. But Timoleon himself does not come onstage until he is forced to make an appearance (in Lesson Two).
Before Timoleon was sent into Sicily: this is the main event of the story, but we are not going to hear about that quite yet
the state of the Syracusans: see introductory notes about Sicily, Syracuse, Dion, and Dionysius
at dissension: in disagreement
tyrant(s): see introductory notes.
usurped: taken over
commended the design: praised the intentions
Peloponnesus: see introductory notes
Timoleon, Hicetas, Leontines, Carthaginians, Corinthians: see introductory notes
411 B.C.: the birth of Timoleon (approximate)
397 B.C.: the birth of Dionysius the Younger (approximate)
357 B.C.: Dionysius the Younger deposed by Dion
354 B.C.: Dion killed and Dionysius returned to power
344 B.C.: the Syracusan appeal to Corinth
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 [under] 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.
Insomuch, 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 [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.
But the noblest citizens repaired unto Hicetas, who at that time as lord ruled the city of the Leontines, and they chose him for their general; not for that he was anything 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: 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 than 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 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 was desirous [that] 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 [it] all over to the Carthaginians, and use them as his friends to aid him against the Syracusans, or [against] 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 needed help? Why did they decide to seek help from the Corinthians?
Why was King Hicetas so eager to send his ambassadors to Corinth?
For older students: Plutarch describes Corinth as a place governed "not for ambition of kingdoms, nor of covetous desire to conquer and rule, but only to defend and maintain the liberty of the Grecians." Some people might argue that any government will inevitably be ambitious to conquer and rule, or will take from rather than support its citizens, because "power corrupts." Do you believe that a government (of a city or a country) can be an example of integrity to its own people and to others? Are there any such examples?
An extra challenge: Read and reflect on the Prologue (found just before this lesson). Why does Plutarch consider it false thinking to limit our studies only to those considered "good?"
In this lesson we hear the story of the worst time in the life of Timoleon, which was caused to some extent by the love and loyalty he felt towards his "rash, hair-brained" brother. How far would he go to cover up Timophanes' errors, and excuse his selfishness?
Fortune: see introductory note
commonweal: the collection of Greek city-states, or, literally, the common welfare or benefit of his people
in his greenest youth: in his youngest days
rash, hairbrained man: someone unwise and impulsive
bare him in hand: made him believe
Argives, Cleoneians: people of other Greek cities
salve: mend, heal
sported: laughed, mocked
waxed warm: got heated up
murder he had committed: Timoleon did not kill Timophanes by his own hand, but he was held responsible for his death
took a conceit: got an idea
all access of company: all interaction with others
it is very requisite and necessary: it is required
considerately: with careful thought and consideration
Aeschylus, Satyrus: men involved in the death of Timophanes)
Mid-360's B.C.: events leading to the death of Timophanes
356 B.C.: the birth of Alexander the Great (for comparison)
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: [they] very willingly determined in council to send them aid, and the rather for that [Corinth was] in good peace at that time, having wars with none of the [other] 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 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 Demareta [Demariste]. 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 [old] 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, [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].
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. He, 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 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 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 [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 [in the meantime], 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 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 [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.
Then he, being wounded to the heart with sorrow, took a conceit suddenly to kill himself by abstaining from [all food]: 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 wander[ed] up and down in most solitary places, [full of anxious and tormenting thoughts].
And thus we see that counsels and judgments are lightly carried away (by praise or dispraise) if they be not shored up with rule of reason and philosophy, and [thus obtain strength and steadiness].And therefore it is very requisite and necessary that not only the act be good and honest of itself, but [that 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]; to the end we may do all things considerately.
[omission for length and mature content]
Narration and Discussion
How did Timoleon show much love, but perhaps not enough wisdom, in dealing with his brother's weaknesses?
"And thus we see that counsels and judgments are lightly carried away (by praise or dispraise) if they be not shored up with rule of reason and philosophy, and [thus obtain strength and steadiness]." Why should we avoid putting too much importance on others' praise or criticism? Compare Proverbs 12:15 with Prov. 17:4.
For older students: Those who have read about the assassination of Julius Caesar might compare it with the death of Timophanes. ("Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.") How might this experience have coloured Timoleon's feelings (positively or negatively) about the later call for him to fight against tyranny?
As the Corinthians prepared to sail to Syracuse, letters arrived from the tyrant Hicetas, intending to persuade them that their help was not needed, or at least to point out that they could not be successful against the Carthaginians, so they would be putting themselves into needless danger by even attempting the mission. However, this attempt at discouragement backfired, and even those who were previously unsure about the need for their intervention were now convinced that it was the right thing to do.
levying of men: gathering a team for the mission
two faces in one hood: he was two-faced, or double-dealing
wrought his feat: succeeded
made league and amity: made an alliance
if any of the Corinthians were before but coldly affected . . . : if any of the citizens had been lukewarm about supporting the mission
the element: the heavens
ceremonies of the holy mysteries: religious rituals
the castle: the fort
willed: this does not seem to mean "forced," but "strongly suggested"
for reward of his treason: Hicetas expected the Carthaginians to agree to his rulership of Syracuse (as well as Leontini)
overthrown the battle: overcome the defences
Dionysius: see introductory notes
344 B.C.: Timoleon led the campaign to restore liberty to Syracuse (at about the age of 67)
But to returnsuscribed 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 than 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 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 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 [the Carthaginians] 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 Hicetas, that they frankly granted Timoleon what he would ask, and help[ed] to furnish him to set him out.
When the ships were ready rigged, and 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.
[omission for length: omens which foretold success for the Corinthians]
He took ship and sailed with seven galleys of Corinth, two of Corfue [Corcyra], and ten [which] 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 marvellous 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 [during] 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.
Thus did this celestial sign of the gods both encourage those that went [on] 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 [it] did marvellously discourage the soldiers he brought with him. For Hicetas having overthrown the battle of the tyrant Dionysius, and possessed the greatest part of the city of Syracuse, he did besiege him [Dionysius] 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 [Hicetas] had prayed [to] 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 [have] no man to [stop] them.
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 that the Carthaginians would in no case [allow] 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 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.]
Narration and Discussion
How was Timoleon convinced to accept the mission to Syracuse?
Why was there such "perplexity" over the situation as they found it?
Creative narration: 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 (live or on paper) of a meeting between Timoleon and his men to discuss the situation. What were their options?
Timoleon's "negotiations" with the envoys of Hicetas made it seem as if he was surrending to their demands; but through a clever trick, he managed to escape from Rhegium and cross over to Sicily.
To his surprise, many of the towns (except for Tauromenium) were mistrustful of even Corinthian help, and they offered no co-operation. One city, Adranum, did want help against Dionysius, but the people were divided on which army to ask, so they invited everybody at once. On the way there, Timoleon's army ambushed Hicetas and his troops, and that victory brought them the full support of Adranum.
conduce to his own security and discharge: protect him and help him to carry out the task
made a countenance: acted as if
through the press: through the crowd
incontinently: without delay
his affection therein: his willingness to demonstrate that belief
Phoenicians: refers to the Carthaginians
and that shewing with speed: and without delay
lodged betimes: set up camp early
the vanguard: those at the front
out of order: unprepared to fight
Andromachus, Mamercus: see introductory notes
On the Map
Tauromenium: a city on the east coast of Sicily (now Taormina), governed by Andromachus
Adranum: also on the east coast. Its people were the Adranitans.
[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. 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 [the Carthaginians] 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 secretly 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, [all of them] 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 Tauromenium, 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 historian, [and] 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 [he] 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 [he] persuaded his 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 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. Howbeit, in the end they determined to send an ambassador unto Tauromenium, 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 [he] 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.
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 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.
Besides that, the other cities of Sicily [did not trust Timoleon]. By reason of the violent extortions they had lately suffered, they hated all captains and leaders of men of war to the death.
[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. So it fortuned that both the one [Hicetas] and the other [Timoleon], making all the possible speed they could who should come first: [they] arrived both in manner at one self time. Hicetas had about five thousand soldiers. Timoleon had not, in all, above twelve hundred men, with the which he departed to go towards Adranum, [which was] distant from Tauromenium 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 daylight shut in, he had news that Hicetas did but newly arrive before Adranum, 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.
Therewithal 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 [had] overcome, they straight set upon their enemies, whom they found all out of order, and [the enemies] began to flee, 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. 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.
Narration and Discussion
Tell all as you can about Andromachus. As a creative narration, you could include opinions and examples of his honesty and good leadership from his friends, servants, etc.
How did Timoleon lead his troops to victory over Hicetas, although they were outnumbered?
Creative narration: Those studying in groups might enjoy acting out the assembly scene in Rhegium, where the whole purpose of the assembly was to delay the envoys and prevent them from leaving the building, while Timoleon found the right moment to escape.
The first part of this lesson describes the surrender of Dionysius to the Corinthians, after the victory over Hicetas. The rest is a sort of sidebar to the main story: it's about the banishment of Dionysius to Corinth, and what he did there (such as having dinner with Philip of Macedon and chatting with Diogenes the philosopher). Dionysius, unfortunately, did not live long after these events.
[he] made no more reckoning: he paid no more attention
munition of wars: weapons
engines of battery: machines such as catapults
threescore and ten: seventy
rehearsed: already mentioned
the less regarded: less esteemed (and therefore less of a threat)
their most familiars: their best friends
when thou goest hence: when you leave
Plato: one of the most famous Greek philosophers. Dion had studied with him in Syracuse years before and had brought him to the court again to mentor young Dionysius; but things had worked out badly between them, so it is not surprising that they did not meet again.
Philip [the] king of Macedon: the father of Alexander the Great
Diogenes of Sinope: (412 or 404 B.C.-323 B.C.), one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. This is the same Diogenes who met Alexander the Great in Corinth (Life of Alexander, Lesson Three).
343 B.C.: the surrender (and later the death) of Dionysius
Furthermore, Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, being weary to follow hope any longer, and finding himself in manner forced unto it by [the] long continuance of [the] siege: [he] made no more reckoning of Hicetas, when he knew that he [Hicetas] 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 [that were] within the same. There were a great number of horse[s] of service, [a] 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, Hicetas not knowing it; and so [he] came to Timoleon's camp. And yet within [a] few days after, Timoleon sent him unto Corinth in a ship, with [a] 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: which [he] himself had kept by the space of ten years after the death of his father. Since Dion drove him out, he had been marvellously 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 for mature content]
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[s], 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, 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 theatres.
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 [short 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 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. [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?"
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 [his untruthful friends' 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 [people] 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 [the] 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: [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."
Now for Plato, he never saw Dionysius at Corinth. 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 "Truly I thank thee, Diogenes, that thou hast compassion of my misery." "Why," said Diogenes again, "Dost 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."
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
Why does Plutarch think that Dionysius deliberately played a bit of a fool in Corinth?
If you have had a negative impression of Dionysius so far (as a tyrant king and an enemy of Timoleon), do these stories about him give you a different view? Was he someone you would like to have known? (Details about his rather strange upbringing and education are found in the Life of Dion.)
For older students: 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.)
The island fort had been taken by the Corinthians, but the rest of the city was dominated by Carthaginian troops, and food was getting low. However, Timoleon's "Fortune" seemed to be looking out for him.
strange, wonderful: out of the normal course of things
set the Corinthians in such a jollity: pleased them so much
corn: grain, wheat
through the press: through the crowd
hard to: close to
discover the treason: confess the plot
their victuals waxed scant: their food ran low
straitly kept: tightly guarded
devised instruments and inventions: war machines
dispersed abroad by tempest . . . : the ships guarding the fort had been driven out of formation by the wind and waves
Acradina: a residential section of Syracuse (which still exists)
the compass and precinct: the boundaries
Mago, their admiral: a long-serving Carthaginian officer
Neon [the] Corinthian: Although we do not seem to know more about him than is told here, he was obviously an intelligent and courageous commander.
On the Map
If you have a large map (or can construct one), you might try laying it out flat during this lesson and moving characters or objects around to represent the various groups.
Thurians: those of the Thurii city/colony, on the Tarentine gulf
Brutians/Bruttians: their territory roughly corresponds to modern-day Calabria
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 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 Brutian 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.]
Hicetas all this while did besiege the castle of Syracuse, preventing [in every way 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, [so] that they got at 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, [so] 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 [that] 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 [men] that stood by did affirm, it was so indeed. Whereat they wondered greatly to consider the marvellous 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 [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.
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.
So he sent hereupon for Mago their admiral, 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 [they had threatened] 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 [now] through Hicetas' 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 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. Nevertheless, Timoleon, [from] 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 Hicetas, finding [out about] this, determined to go take the city of Catana, from whence those of the castle of Syracuse were victualled: and taking with them the best soldiers of all their army, they departed from Syracuse, and sailed towards 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 [Neon] won a quarter of the city which they call Acradina, [which] was the best part of the city, [and that which] had received [the] 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 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.
Narration and Discussion
Give some reasons that people thought Timoleon must have had some kind of guardian angel (or "Fortune") looking after him. Do you agree?
What person or group of people do you think showed the most courage or strength of character in this passage?
Creative narration: Pretend you are Hicetas writing in his journal, writing a letter, or singing the Leontine Blues. Tell how this has not all gone quite the way you wanted it to.
As the battle for Syracuse continued, the Corinthian backup troops found a way across to the island (again due to Carthaginian lack of foresight). A campaign to discourage the Greek-born mercenaries working for the Carthaginians was also successful; but Hicetas was resolved to fight to the end, even if he had to do it alone.
These successes, indeed, were such . . . : The success of the previous events could be credited to the skill and courage of those involved, with nothing supernatural about it. What you will hear next, however, should have been impossible without the help of "Fortune." (See also the introductory notes)
that remained in the city of the Thurians: see Lesson Six, Part One
policy, device: trick
the Grecians that took pay on both sides: Greek mercenary soldiers, some hired by Timoleon and some by Hicetas and the Carthaginians
frequented familiarly together: fraternized, "hung out" together
commodious: full of good things
there was treason in hand: Mago suspected that his Greek-born mercenaries were secretly loyal to their own people, and that his life might be in danger
prayed him all he could to tarry: tried to persuade him to stay
hardly to be approached: difficult to access
Hanno: Hanno the Great of Carthage, who was not only a military leader, but one of its foremost citizens
Demaratus: a Corinthian military leader, appearing here and in Lesson Nine. It seems likely that he was the friend of Philip and Alexander mentioned in the Life of Alexander, Lesson Thirteen.
On the Map
Messina (in Latin, Messana): a city and its surrounding area on the Strait of Messina, in the northeast corner of Sicily
[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 thing I will tell you now, in my opinion, is altogether to be subscribed unto contention of Fortune. And this it is.
The two thousand footmen 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 [the Carthaginian] 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 [the Brutians'] good will (but rather by force) they got through, and recovered the city of Rhegium, the sea being yet marvellous high and rough.
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.
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 Rhegium, 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[s] (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 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. 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 countrymen, and of one language, [they] had no private quarrel one with another; but when time was to fight, they did their duties, and in time of peace also frequented familiarly together, and one spake with another, 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 seaside. So one of the soldiers that served under the Corinthians chanced to say unto [those that served the Carthaginians]:
"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? Where[as] 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 soldiers that heard this tale, reported it again in their camp, insomuch they made Mago suspect there was treason in hand, and so [he] sought some [pretence] to be gone. But hereupon, notwithstanding that Hicetas prayed him all he could to tarry, declaring unto him how much they were stronger than their enemies, and that Timoleon did rather prevail by his hardiness and good fortune, than 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 [Mago] was gone, Timoleon presented battle before the city [of Syracuse]. When the Grecians and he understood that the Carthaginians were fled, and that they saw the haven rid of all the ships: [they] 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, Hicetas was bent to fight, and would not leave the spoil he had gotten, but defend[ed] 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 [the] 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, Hicetas' bands of men were broken, and ran their way.
Now that the city was thus won by assault, and came so suddenly to the hands of 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 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.
Narration and Discussion
How did Hanno's trick backfire on him?
Explain the speech of the Corinthian mercenary to those fighting on the Carthaginian side. What was its unexpected result?
For older students: 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. How does this relate to a belief in God's intervention vs. coincidence and good luck, or succeeding through one's own courage and skill?
The Corinthians were now positioned to do whatever they wanted with Syracuse. They could install another tyrant king and control the region as they wished; but that was not their plan. With the support of the Corinthians, the Syracusans began to rebuild their devastated city.
[the error of] Dion: Dion, who had similarly seized the fortress to end the tyranny of Dionysius, had then taken it for himself
but went thither straight: they all went right away
hard by the walls: just outside the city walls
stout: strong; some of these people had built isolated castles (or forts) for themselves, because they did not trust the government
barren: empty, unused
besought: asked, pleaded with
defray the common charges: cover the expenses
statues or images: public statues
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 [they] 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, 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.]
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 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 [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. 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.
[omission for length: Timoleon's work to remove all traces of tyranny out of Sicily, and to re-establish the laws of Syracuse]
Narration and Discussion
Show how Timoleon demonstrated wisdom in his dealings with the Syracusans. How did the people back in Corinth help?
Why didn't the Syracusans who "dwelt in castles and strongholds in the country" want to return? How could Timoleon relate to this?
How did the Syracusans raise money to restore their city?
Creative narration: Write the thoughts of a Syracusan witnessing the sale of his favourite statue.
Timoleon banished some of the former tyrants to Corinth; and he confined Hicetas to Leontini, under the condition that he stay out of military involvement. Hicetas and his allies were still determined to rule Sicily, however; and even more so when they heard that the Corinthians had moved into Carthaginian territory.
sporting wars: casual attacks
their country: their territory
in midway: partway through the journey
he had that proof of them: they showed their true natures before he had to depend on them in battle
fell upon his army: met up with them
smallage: parsley or wild celery
took a conceit: got a notion
what number he would: as many as he could
vanguard: those at the front
paled in: hemmed in
on the flanks: on each side
(H)asdrubal and Hamilcar: Carthaginian generals
Demaratus: see Lesson Seven
340-339 B.C.: Hicetas persuaded Carthage to send troops to Lilybaeum
339 B.C.: Battle of Crimissus
On the Map
Lilybaeum: a Phoenician city on the western coast of Sicily; the site of present-day Marsala. The Phoenician name, translated as "Lilybaeum" in Latin, meant "Town that Looks on Libya."
Crimissus: possibly the Freddo, a river in northwestern Sicily
The Carthaginians on the other side, while [the Corinthians] were busy about [these] matters, came down into Lilybaeum with an army of three score and ten thousand men, two hundred galleys, and a thousand other 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 (H)asdrubal 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. 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 [Timoleon] in midway, and returned home again. [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 threescore and ten 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 had no place whether they might retire themselves unto with safety, nor [a] man that would take care to bury them, when they were slain. 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 of Crimissus, 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 laden with smallage.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 speak 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 beforehand. "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 even in the solemn Isthmian games, they used the garland of 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 pineapple [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 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 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 of Crimissus, and the enemies also, how they passed it over in this sort. First, they [the enemy] 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 [the river] with great disorder.
There Timoleon [considered] the river gave him opportunity to take them before they were half passed over, and to set upon what number he would. After he had shewed his men with his finger, how the battle [formation] of their enemies was divided in two parts by means of the river, some of them being already passed over, and the other [still] 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 [formation] 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 loud 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 to turn his men from fear to courage?
Explain the strategy that Timoleon planned to use against the Carthaginians. How did he show skill in leadership, especially in dealing with the problem of the chariots?
This lesson continues the story of the battle at the Crimissus River, and its aftermath.
corselets, murrions: chest armour, helmets
stood the Grecians to great purpose: helped them a great deal
without any certain channel: without any proper outlet
entertain: employ as soldiers
stood not trifling: did not bother
made league: made an alliance
Mamercus, Hicetas: see previous lessons
Gisgo: the son of Hanno the Great
Thus with great fury [Timoleon] went to give a charge upon [the Carthaginians], 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 [the Syracusan] 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 [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, and full before the barbarous people, beating on their faces; [it] 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. [This] did marvellously trouble them, and specially those that were but fresh-water soldiers, by reason of the terrible thunderclaps and the noise [that] the boisterous wind and hail made upon their [weapons]: for they could not hear the order of their captains. 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 through[ly] 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 of 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. Insomuch, some of them being followed very near [by the Syracusans] 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; [but they] were overtaken by them that were light armed, and [they] 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 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.
[omission for length: the taking of much treasure]
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.
Afterwards, Mamercus the tyrant of Catana, and Hicetas (whether it was for the envy they did bear to Timoleon's famous deeds, or for that they were afraid of him), perceiving tyrants could look for no peace at his hands: they made league with the Carthaginians, and wrote unto them that they should send another army and captain suddenly, if they would not utterly be driven out of Sicily. The Carthaginians sent Gisgo thither with threescore and ten sail; [and at] his first coming [he] took a certain number of Grecian soldiers into pay, which were the first the Carthaginians [had ever enlisted] in their service: for they never gave them pay until that present time, [but now] they thought them to be men invincible, and the best soldiers of the world.
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 defence 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.]
[short omission for length]
Narration and Discussion
Describe the events of the battle at the Crimissus River in as much detail as you can.
For older students: Why did Timoleon seem to feel the killing of four hundred soldiers in Messina was no great loss? Do you agree?
The pieces of Carthaginian armour that the Corinthians sent back to Greece were given "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?
Although a few diehard tyrants (Hicetas and Mamercus) continued to struggle against Timoleon, it was obvious even to them that they had lost their support.
fell out: fought, argued
ancient: original, former
device: involvement; literally, his personal stamp
338 B.C.: the Carthaginians agreed to peace terms
338 B.C.: Battle of Chaeronea (for comparison)
On the Map
Calauria: a town in Sicily
Catana: see introductory notes
Agrigentum and Gela: cities on the southern coast of Sicily
[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 after he had done great hurt, and spoiled the country, 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 Damurias, 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.]
Now the captains of Timoleon's bands fell out marvellously amongst themselves, striving for honour of this service, which was [a] cause of delaying the battle. For none passing over would willingly come behind, but [each man claimed 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], they began every man to pass the river as quickly as they could, 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 spake against the Corinthians.
[omission: the murder by the Syracusans of the wives and daughters of Hicetas, in revenge for a similar act done against Dion. Mamercus (the tyrant of Catana) continued to conspire against Timoleon but was eventually caught and executed.]
Thus did Timoleon root all tyrants out of Sicily, and make an end of all wars there. [And, whereas, at his first entering upon Sicily, the island was as it were (had) become wild again, and was hateful to the very natives on account of] 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 [it]self before were glad to fly and forsake it.
For Agrigentum and Gela, two great cities, did witness this. [They], 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[s] and ability, for which they loved and honoured him 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.
[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 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 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 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 marvellous 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 [to Sicily], 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 honour 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
Describe the events at the Damurias River. How might it have ended badly? How did Timoleon handle the situation?
How did Timoleon plan to spend his "second retirement?"
For older students: Why did Timoleon give so much credit to Fortune and the gods for his success? Two Scriptures you might want to look up are Isaiah 45:1 and Acts 17:23.
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?
Timoleon had to face a few harsh critics, but he handled them (as usual) with strength and grace. Plutarch ends the story with a description of Timoleon's final days in Syracuse.
convince him: convict him of wrongdoing
adjournment: calling into court
persuaded the Grecians unto: gave them this ideal
they dispatched it of themselves: they handled it themselves
litter: a bed or seat carried by men
propound the matter doubtful: explain the difficult problem
razed to the ground: destroyed
Laphystius, Demaenetus: critics of Timoleon
337 B.C.: the death of Timoleon (at about the age of 74)
336 B.C.: Alexander the Great became king of Macedon
But it is an ordinary matter and [a] necessity (as Simonides saith) that not only all larks have a tuft upon their heads, but also that in all cities there be accusers where the people rule. There were two of those at Syracuse that continually made orations to the people, who did accuse Timoleon: the one [was] 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 labour 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 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 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 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. This 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.
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 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 victories he had won in Sicily. But amongst many other things the Syracusans did, and ordained to honour him with, this of all 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 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 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.
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 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 apparelled 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 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.]
Narration and Discussion
Why did Timoleon say he was glad to hear criticism of his military actions?
In what ways did the Syracusans show their admiration for Timoleon?
For older students: As a citizen, what does it mean to "frankly use the liberty of [your country's] laws?"
A special challenge: In the prologue to the Life of Timoleon, which you will find in this volume just before Lesson One, Plutarch said that he treated the writing of someone's life much as receiving an honoured guest, "all that is noblest and worthiest to know." "Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have?" he said. Write your own impressions of Timoleon as Plutarch presented him. Is he someone you would "invite back" as valued company?
A possibility for debate: Who was greater: Alexander or Timoleon?
1. Why did Timoleon first save his brother's life and then consent to his death? Tell the whole story.
2. Give a short account of Timoleon's expedition against the Carthagenians.
1. Describe the conquest of Syracuse. How did Timoleon treat the city?
AmblesideOnline Plutarch Readings:
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus