Diodorus Siculus

BOOK XIII - The Library of History

Page 345


The Syracusian Officers accus'd. Dionysius made General of the Syracusians. He moves to have the Exiles recall'd. He's invested with the sole Command. At length by several Artifices gains the Sovereignty.

IMilcar having gain'd the City after Eight Months Siege, a little before the Winter Solstice, did not presently sack it, to the end the Souldiers might quarter there all the Winter. When the ruin of Agrigentum was nois'd Abroad, the whole Island was struck with such Terror, that some of the Sicylians fled to Syracuse, and others transported themselves, their Wives, Children and Moveables into Italy. When the Agrigentines that had escap'd, came to Syracuse, they accus'd the Commanders, affirming that they had betrayed their Country into the Enemies Hand; but the Syracusians cast the blame upon the other Sicilians, because they chose such a sort of Officers who endanger'd the loss of all Sicily by their Treachery.

But when a Senate was call'd at Syracuse, they were in such a Consternation as none durst move or advise any thing concerning the War. And being all thus at a stand Dionysius the Son of Hermocrates renew'd the Accusation against the Officers, That they had Betrayed Agrigentum to the Carthaginians, and stirred up the People forthwith to take Revenge, and not to wait for Formalities of Law in execution of Justice. But Dionysius being Fin'd according to Law by the Magistrates as a disturber of the publick Peace, Philistus (who afterwards writ a History, a very rich Man) paid the Fine for him, and bid him speak his Mind freely, and promis'd him to pay whatever was impos'd upon him, if they fin'd him all the Day long.

Dionysius being thus encouraged, he stirr'd up the People, and fill'd the Assembly with Tumult by his Criminations, charging the Commanders, that for Bribes they had drawn off and forsaken the Agrigentines. He accus'd likewise many others of the best of the Citizens, traducing them that they aim'd to introduce an Oligarchy; and told the Senate, That Commanders were not to be chosen according to their greatness in Power, but according to the Good Will and Regard they bore towards the People: For the Great Ones Lording it over them, had them in Contempt, and inrich'd themselves by the Losses of their Country; but Men of Low Fortunes never attempt any thing of such a nature, knowing their own disability.

When he had spoken what he had design'd, and so agreeable to the Humour of the People, he set all the Assembly on a Flame; for the People before bore a secret Hatred to the Commanders, because they were suspected to have dealt falsly in the management of the War, and now being the more exasperated by the Speech of Dionysius, they forthwith depriv'd them of their Commands, and chose others in their room, amongst whom was Dionysius, a Man of great Esteem and Reputation with the Syracusians, for his approved Valour in several Battles against the Carthaginians.

Having gain'd this step of Preferment, he contriv'd all ways imaginable how to advance to the Sovereign Power over his Country; for after he was invested with the Command, he never associated with the other Commanders, nor join'd with them in any Council of War. In the mean time he caus'd Rumours to be spread Abroad, that they kept secret Correspondence with the Enemy, hoping thereby to get them laid aside, and so to have the sole Command of the Army lodg'd in himself. While he was executing these Projects, the most prudent Citizens suspected him, and every Assembly gave very hard and ill Words. On the other hand, the common People ignorant of his Deceit and Fraud, prais'd every thing he did, and published every where, that now at length they had got a faithful and constant Guardian and Defender of the City.

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