Diodorus Siculus

BOOK XIV - The Library of History

Page 360


Dionysius his Projects to strengthen himself in the Sovereignty of Sicily. The Syracusians Revolt. They are dispersed.

IN the mean time Dionysius the Tyrant of Sicily having made Peace with the Carthaginians, bent all his Care to strengthen himself in the Sovereignty. For he judg'd that the Syracusians, now brought under by the War, had nothing to do but to seek after the recovery of their Liberty. Perceiving therefore the Island belonging to the City (which was naturally fortify'd) would be easily defended by a small Garrison, he divided it from the rest of the City by a strong Wall, in which he built many high Towers, near one to another, and under it Guard-houses and Lodgings, which would contain great numbers of Men: He built likewise there at great expence a Castle which commanded the City, that it might be a shelter ready to fly to upon any suddain commotion; with the same Wall he took in the Arsenal near to the little Port call'd Laccius capable to receive Threescore Sail, and had a Gate through which only one Ship at a time could enter. Then he mark'd out the best pieces of Land, and gave them to his Friends and Officers: the rest he equally distributed amongst the Citizens, and in the number of Citizens he accounted Manumitted Slaves, and call'd them Neopolites, New Citizens. He bestowed likewise Houses every where upon the common People (except those Houses that were in the Island) and those he gave as a Reward to his Friends and Mercenaries.

Having now firmly fix'd himself in the Throne (as he conceiv'd) he march'd out with an Army against the Sicilians, with a design to being them into Slavery, who as yet were free, especially those who had lately assisted the Carthaginians. To this end he lay before the City of Herbessus, and furnish'd himself with every thing necessary for the Siege. They of Syracuse that were listed upon this Expedition, having got Arms into their hands, met together in private Cabals, and blam'd one another for that they did not assist the Horsmen in deposing of the Tyrant. It happen'd at that time, that one of Dionysius's Captains threatning a Soldier for his saucy Language, and presently offering to beat him upon his sharp Retorts, the Soldiers were so enrag'd, that they kill'd the Officer, whose Name was Doricus; and calling out with a loud voice to the Citizens to stand up for their Liberty, they sent for the Horse from Aetna; for they at the beginning of the Tyranny left the Tyrant and possess'd themselves of that Castle. Dionysius being now terrify'd with the defection of the Syracusians, broke up the Siege, and hasts away with all speed to Syracuse, and to possess himself of the City before any of his Enemies. Upon his flight thither the Fomenters of the Rebellion created them their Captains and Leaders, who had kill'd the Officer, and being join'd with the Horse from Aetna, they encampt in the Epipoli (as they are call'd) lying over against the Tyrant, blocking up his passage into the open Field. These Revolters likewise continually sent Messengers to Messina and Rhegium to sollicit their aid at Sea for the recovery of their Liberty. For these Cities at that time commonly set forth no less than Fourscore Gallies well Mann'd which they then sent to the Syracusians to assist them. Besides all this, they in the Epipoli promis'd by the Common Cryer a great reward to him that should kill the Tyrant; and, that they would Enfranchize all Foreigners that would come over to them. And now having provided Engines for the battering down of the Wall, they Assaulted the Island every day, and kindly receiv'd all Strangers that came to them. Upon this, Dionysius seeing himself forsaken of the Mercenaries, and that he was so straitly penn'd up, call'd his Friends together to consult what was best to be done in the present Exigency. For he so far despair'd of keeping the Sovereignty, that he did not so much as seek how he might subdue the Syracusians, but by what kind of Death he might put an end to his Life; lest he should be forc'd to a shameful Abdication of the Government. Heloris one of his Friends, (but others say the Poet his Father) told him, that the memory of his being a King, would be the Glorious Ornament of his Sepulcher; and Polyxenus his Father-inlaw advis'd him to break through upon the swiftest Horse he had, and get away to those parts under the power of the Carthaginians, and crave help of the Campanians, whom Imilcar had left to defend his Conquests in Sicily. But Philistus (who afterwards writ the History) gainsaid Polyxenus, and said, Dionysius, it doth not become thee by the swiftness of thy Horse to fly away from thy Principality, but rather with thy whole strength to hold it fast within thy very Thighs. Dionysius clos'd with this Advice, and resolv'd

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