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Plutarch's Lives

Part 8 out of 35

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priests performed any divine worship, a herald should go before, and
proclaim with a loud voice, Hoc age, Do this you are about, and so warn
them to mind whatever sacred action they were engaged in, and not suffer
any business or worldly avocation to disturb and interrupt it; most of
the things which men do of this kind, being in a manner forced from
them, and effected by constraint. It is usual with the Romans to
recommence their sacrifices and processions and spectacles, not only
upon such a cause as this, but for any slighter reason. If but one of
the horses which drew the chariots called Tensae, upon which the images
of their gods were placed, happened to fail and falter, or if the driver
took hold of the reins with his left hand, they would decree that the
whole operation should commence anew; and, in latter ages, one and the
same sacrifice was performed thirty times over, because of the
occurrence of some defect or mistake or accident in the service. Such
was the Roman reverence and caution in religious matters.

Marcius and Tullus were now secretly discoursing of their project with
the chief men of Antium, advising them to invade the Romans while they
were at variance among themselves. And when shame appeared to hinder
them from embracing the motion, as they had sworn to a truce and
cessation of arms for the space of two years, the Romans themselves soon
furnished them with a pretense, by making proclamation, out of some
jealousy or slanderous report, in the midst of the spectacles, that all
the Volscians who had come to see them should depart the city before
sunset. Some affirm that this was a contrivance of Marcius, who sent a
man privately to the consuls, falsely to accuse the Volscians of
intending to fall upon the Romans during the games, and to set the city
on fire. This public affront roused and inflamed their hostility to the
Romans, and Tullus, perceiving it, made his advantage of it, aggravating
the fact, and working on their indignation, till he persuaded them, at
last, to dispatch ambassadors to Rome, requiring the Romans to restore
that part of their country and those towns which they had taken from the
Volscians in the late war. When the Romans heard the message, they
indignantly replied, that the Volscians were the first that took up
arms, but the Romans would be the last to lay them down. This answer
being brought back, Tullus called a general assembly of the Volscians;
and the vote passing for a war, he then proposed that they should call
in Marcius, laying aside the remembrance of former grudges, and
assuring themselves that the services they should now receive from him
as a friend and associate, would abundantly outweigh any harm or damage
he had done them when he was their enemy. Marcius was accordingly
summoned, and having made his entrance, and spoken to the people, won
their good opinion of his capacity, his skill, counsel, and boldness,
not less by his present words than by his past actions. They joined him
in commission with Tullus, to have full power as general of their forces
in all that related to the war. And he, fearing lest the time that
would be requisite to bring all the Volscians together in full
preparation might be so long as to lose him the opportunity of action,
left order with the chief persons and magistrates of the city to provide
other things, while he himself, prevailing upon the most forward to
assemble and march out with him as volunteers without staying to be
enrolled, made a sudden inroad into the Roman confines, when nobody
expected him, and possessed himself of so much booty, that the Volscians
found they had more than they could either carry away or use in the
camp. The abundance of provision which he gained, and the waste and
havoc of the country which he made, were, however, of themselves and in
his account, the smallest results of that invasion; the great mischief
he intended, and his special object in all, was to increase at Rome the
suspicions entertained of the patricians, and to make them upon worse
terms with the people. With this view, while spoiling all the fields
and destroying the property of other men, he took special care to
preserve their farms and lands untouched, and would not allow his
soldiers to ravage there, or seize upon anything which belonged to
them. From hence their invectives and quarrels against one another
broke out afresh, and rose to a greater height than ever; the senators
reproaching those of the commonalty with their late injustice to
Marcius; while the plebeians, on their side, did not hesitate to accuse
them of having, out of spite and revenge, solicited him to this
enterprise, and thus, when others were involved in the miseries of a war
by their means, they sat like unconcerned spectators, as being furnished
with a guardian and protector abroad of their wealth and fortunes, in
the very person of the public enemy. After this incursion and exploit,
which was of great advantage to the Volscians, as they learned by it to
grow more hardy and to contemn their enemy, Marcius drew them off, and
returned in safety.

But when the whole strength of the Volscians was brought together into
the field, with great expedition and alacrity, it appeared so
considerable a body, that they agreed to leave part in garrison, for the
security of their towns, and with the other part to march against the
Romans. Marcius now desired Tullus to choose which of the two charges
would be most agreeable to him. Tullus answered, that since he knew
Marcius to be equally valiant with himself, and far more fortunate, he
would have him take the command of those that were going out to the war,
while he made it his care to defend their cities at home, and provide
all conveniences for the army abroad. Marcius thus reinforced, and much
stronger than before, moved first towards the city called Circaeum, a
Roman colony. He received its surrender, and did the inhabitants no
injury; passing thence, he entered and laid waste the country of the
Latins, where he expected the Romans would meet him, as the Latins were
their confederates and allies, and had often sent to demand succors from
them. The people, however, on their part, showing little inclination
for the service, and the consuls themselves being unwilling to run the
hazard of a battle, when the time of their office was almost ready to
expire, they dismissed the Latin ambassadors without any effect; so that
Marcius, finding no army to oppose him, marched up to their cities, and,
having taken by force Toleria, Lavici, Peda, and Bola, all of which
offered resistance, not only plundered their houses, but made a prey
likewise of their persons. Meantime, he showed particular regard for
all such as came over to his party, and, for fear they might sustain any
damage against his will, encamped at the greatest distance he could, and
wholly abstained from the lands of their property.

After, however, that he had made himself master of Bola, a town not
above ten miles from Rome, where he found great treasure, and put almost
all the adults to the sword; and when, on this, the other Volscians that
were ordered to stay behind and protect their cities, hearing of his
achievements and success, had not patience to remain any longer at home,
but came hastening in their arms to Marcius, saying that he alone was
their general and the sole commander they would own; with all this, his
name and renown spread throughout all Italy, and universal wonder
prevailed at the sudden and mighty revolution in the fortunes of two
nations which the loss and the accession of a single man had effected.

All at Rome was in great disorder; they were utterly averse from
fighting, and spent their whole time in cabals and disputes and
reproaches against each other; until news was brought that the enemy had
laid close siege to Lavinium, where were the images and sacred things of
their tutelar gods, and from whence they derived the origin of their
nation, that being the first city which Aeneas built in Italy. These
tidings produced a change as universal as it was extraordinary in the
thoughts inclinations of the people, but occasioned a yet stranger
revulsion of feeling among the patricians. The people now were for
repealing the sentence against Marcius, an calling him back into the
city; whereas the senate, being assembled to preconsider the decree,
opposed and finally rejected the proposal, either out of the mere humor
of contradicting and withstanding the people in whatever they should
desire, or because they were unwilling, perhaps, that he should owe his
restoration to their kindness or having now conceived a displeasure
against Marcius himself, who was bringing distress upon all alike,
though he had not been ill treated by all, and was become, declared
enemy to his whole country, though he knew well enough that the
principal and all the better men condoled with him, and suffered in his

This resolution of theirs being made public, the people could proceed no
further, having no authority to pass anything by suffrage, and enact it
for a law, without a previous decree from the senate. When Marcius
heard of this, he was more exasperated than ever, and, quitting the
seige of Lavinium, marched furiously towards Rome, and encamped at a
place called the Cluilian ditches, about five miles from the city. The
nearness of his approach did, indeed, create much terror and
disturbance, yet it also ended their dissensions for the present; as
nobody now, whether consul or senator, durst any longer contradict the
people in their design of recalling Marcius but, seeing their women
running affrighted up and down the streets, and the old men at prayer in
every temple with tears and supplications, and that, in short, there was
a general absence among them both of courage and wisdom to provide for
their own safety, they came at last to be all of one mind, that the
people had been in the right to propose as they did a reconciliation
with Marcius, and that the senate was guilty of a fatal error to begin a
quarrel with him when it was a time to forget offenses, and they should
have studied rather to appease him. It was, therefore, unanimously
agreed by all parties, that ambassadors should be dispatched, offering
him return to his country, and desiring he would free them from the
terrors and distresses of the war. The persons sent by the senate with
this message were chosen out of his kindred and acquaintance, who
naturally expected a very kind reception at their first interview, upon
the score of that relation and their old familiarity and friendship with
him; in which, however, they were much mistaken. Being led through the
enemy's camp, they found him sitting in state amidst the chief men of
the Volscians, looking insupportably proud and arrogant. He bade them
declare the cause of their coming, which they did in the most gentle and
tender terms, and with a behavior suitable to their language. When they
had made an end of speaking, he returned them a sharp answer, full of
bitterness and angry resentment, as to what concerned himself, and the
ill usage he had received from them; but as general of the Volscians, he
demanded restitution of the cities and the lands which had been seized
upon during the late war, and that the same rights and franchises should
be granted them at Rome, which had been before accorded to the Latins;
since there could be no assurance that a peace would be firm and
lasting, without fair and just conditions on both sides. He allowed
them thirty days to consider and resolve.

The ambassadors being departed, he withdrew his forces out of the Roman
territory. This, those of the Volscians who had long envied his
reputation, and could not endure to see the influence he had with the
people laid hold of, as the first matter of complaint against him. Among
them was also Tullus himself, not for any wrong done him personally by
Marcius, but through the weakness incident to human nature. He could
not help feeling mortified to find his own glory thus totally obscured,
and himself overlooked and neglected now by the Volscians, who had so
great an opinion of their new leader that he alone was all to them,
while other captains, they thought, should be content with that share of
power, which he might think fit to accord. From hence the first seeds
of complaint and accusation were scattered about in secret, and the
malcontents met and heightened each other's indignation, saying, that to
retreat as he did was in effect to betray and deliver up, though not
their cities and their arms, yet what was as bad, the critical times and
opportunities for action, on which depend the preservation or the loss
of everything else; since in less than thirty days' space, for which he
had given a respite from the war, there might happen the greatest
changes in the world. Yet Marcius spent not any part of the time idly,
but attacked the confederates of the enemy ravaged their land, and took
from them seven great and populous cities in that interval. The Romans,
in the meanwhile, durst not venture out to their relief; but were
utterly fearful, and showed no more disposition or capacity for action,
than if their bodies had been struck with a palsy, and become destitute
of sense and motion. But when the thirty days were expired, and Marcius
appeared again with his whole army, they sent another embassy- to
beseech him that he would moderate his displeasure, and would withdraw
the Volscian army, and then make any proposals he thought best for both
parties; the Romans would make no concessions to menaces, but if it
were his opinion that the Volscians ought to have any favor shown them,
upon laying down their arms they might obtain all they could in reason

The reply of Marcius was, that he should make no answer to this as
general of the Volscians, but, in the quality still of a Roman citizen,
he would advise and exhort them, as the case stood, not to carry it so
high, but think rather of just compliance, and return to him, before
three days were at an end, with a ratification of his previous demands;
otherwise, they must understand that they could not have any further
freedom of passing through his camp upon idle errands.

When the ambassadors were come back, and had acquainted the senate with
the answer, seeing the whole state now threatened as it were by a
tempest, and the waves ready to overwhelm them, they were forced, as we
say in extreme perils, to let down the sacred anchor. A decree was
made, that the whole order of their priests, those who initiated in the
mysteries or had the custody of them, and those who, according to the
ancient practice of the country, divined from birds, should all and
every one of them go in full procession to Marcius with their pontifical
array, and the dress and habit which they respectively used in their
several functions, and should urge him, as before, to withdraw his
forces, and then treat with his countrymen in favor of the Volscians.
He consented so far, indeed, as to give the deputation an admittance
into his camp, but granted nothing at all, nor so much as expressed
himself more mildly; but, without capitulating or receding, bade them
once for all choose whether they would yield or fight, since the old
terms were the only terms of peace. When this solemn application proved
ineffectual, the priests, too, returning unsuccessful, they determined to
sit still within the city, and keep watch about their walls, intending
only to repulse the enemy, should he offer to attack them, and placing
their hopes chiefly in time and in extraordinary accidents of fortune;
as to themselves, they felt incapable of doing any thing for their own
deliverance; mere confusion and terror and ill-boding reports possessed
the whole city; till at last a thing happened not unlike what we so
often find represented, without, however, being accepted as true by
people in general, in Homer. On some great and unusual occasion we find
him say: --

But him the blue-eyed goddess did inspire;

and elsewhere: --

But some immortal turned my mind away,
To think what others of the deed would say;

and again: --

Were 't his own thought or were 't a god's command.

People are apt, in such passages, to censure and disregard the poet, as
if, by the introduction of mere impossibilities and idle fictions, he
were denying the action of a man's own deliberate thought and free
choice; which is not, in the least, the case in Homer's representation,
where the ordinary, probable, and habitual conclusions that common
reason leads to are continually ascribed to our own direct agency. He
certainly says frequently enough: --

But I consulted with my own great soul;

or, as in another passage: --

He spoke. Achilles, with quick pain possessed,
Revolved two purposes in his strong breast;

and in a third: --

-- Yet never to her wishes won
The just mind of the brave Bellerophon.

But where the act is something out of the way and extraordinary, and
seems in a manner to demand some impulse of divine possession and sudden
inspiration to account for it here he does introduce divine agency, not
to destroy, but to prompt the human will; not to create in us another
agency, but offering images to stimulate our own; images that in no sort
or kind make our action involuntary, but give occasion rather to
spontaneous action, aided and sustained by feelings of confidence and
hope. For either we must totally dismiss and exclude divine influences
from every kind of causality and origination in what we do, or else what
other way can we conceive in which divine aid and cooperation can act?
Certainly we cannot suppose that the divine beings actually and
literally turn our bodies and direct our hands and our feet this way or
that, to do what is right: it is obvious that they must actuate the
practical and elective element of our nature, by certain initial
occasions, by images presented to the imagination, and thoughts
suggested to the mind, such either as to excite it to, or avert and
withhold it from, any particular course.

In the perplexity which I have described, the Roman women went, some to
other temples, but the greater part, and the ladies of highest rank, to
the altar of Jupiter Capitolinus. Among these suppliants was Valeria,
sister to the great Poplicola, who did the Romans eminent service both
in peace and war. Poplicola himself was now deceased, as is told in the
history of his life; but Valeria lived still, and enjoyed great respect
and honor at Rome, her life and conduct no way disparaging her birth.
She, suddenly seized with the sort of instinct or emotion of mind which
I have described, and happily lighting, not without divine guidance,
on the right expedient, both rose herself, and bade the others rise,
and went directly with them to the house of Volumnia, the mother of
Marcius. And coming in and finding her sitting with her daughter-in-
law, and with her little grandchildren on her lap, Valeria, then
surrounded by her female companions, spoke in the name of them all:--

"We that now make our appearance, O Volumnia, and you, Vergilia, are
come as mere women to women, not by direction of the senate, or an order
from the consuls, or the appointment of any other magistrate; but the
divine being himself, as I conceive, moved to compassion by prayers,
prompted us to visit you in a body, and request a thing on which our own
and the common safety depends, and which, if you consent to it, will
raise your glory above that of the daughters of the Sabines, who won
over their fathers and their husbands from mortal enmity to peace and
friendship. Arise and come with us to Marcius; join in our
supplication, and bear for your country this true and just testimony on
her behalf: that, notwithstanding the many mischiefs that have been
done her, yet she has never outraged you, nor so much as thought of
treating you ill, in all her resentment, but does now restore you safe
into his hands, though there be small likelihood she should obtain from
him any equitable terms."

The words of Valeria were seconded by the acclamations of the other
women, to which Volumnia made answer:--

"I and Vergilia, my countrywomen, have an equal share with you all in
the common miseries, and we have the additional sorrow, which is wholly
ours, that we have lost the merit and good fame of Marcius, and see his
person confined, rather than protected, by the arms of the enemy. Yet I
account this the greatest of all misfortunes, if indeed the affairs of
Rome be sunk to so feeble a state as to have their last dependence upon
us. For it is hardly imaginable he should have any consideration left
for us, when he has no regard for the country which he was wont to
prefer before his mother and wife and children. Make use, however, of
our service; and lead us, if you please, to him; we are able, if nothing
more, at least to spend our last breath in making suit to him for our

Having spoken thus, she took Vergilia by the hand, and the young
children, and so accompanied them to the Volscian camp. So lamentable a
sight much affected the enemies themselves, who viewed them in
respectful silence. Marcius was then sitting in his place, with his
chief officers about him, and, seeing the party of women advance toward
them, wondered what should be the matter; but perceiving at length that
his mother was at the head of them, he would fain have hardened himself
in his former inexorable temper, but, overcome by his feelings, and
confounded at what he saw, he did not endure they should approach him
sitting in state, but came down hastily to meet them, saluting his
mother first, and embracing her a long time, and then his wife and
children, sparing neither tears nor caresses, but suffering himself to
be borne away and carried headlong, as it were, by the impetuous
violence of his passion.

When he had satisfied himself, and observed that his mother Volumnia was
desirous to say something, the Volscian council being first called in,
he heard her to the following effect: "Our dress and our very persons,
my son, might tell you, though we should say nothing ourselves, in how
forlorn a condition we have lived at home since your banishment and
absence from us; and now consider with yourself, whether we may not pass
for the most unfortunate of all women, to have that sight, which should
be the sweetest that we could see, converted, through I know not what
fatality, to one of all others the most formidable and dreadful, --
Volumnia to behold her son, and Vergilia her husband, in arms against
the walls of Rome. Even prayer itself, whence others gain comfort and
relief in all manner of misfortunes, is that which most adds to our
confusion and distress; since our best wishes are inconsistent with
themselves, nor can we at the same time petition the gods for Rome's
victory and your preservation, but what the worst of our enemies would
imprecate as a curse, is the very object of our vows. Your wife and
children are under the sad necessity, that they must either be deprived
of you, or of their native soil. As for myself, I am resolved not to
wait till war shall determine this alternative for me; but if I cannot
prevail with you to prefer amity and concord to quarrel and hostility,
and to be the benefactor to both parties, rather than the destroyer of
one of them, be assured of this from me, and reckon steadfastly upon it,
that you shall not be able to reach your country, unless you trample
first upon the corpse of her that brought you into life. For it will be
ill in me to wait and loiter in the world till the day come wherein I
shall see a child of mine, either led in triumph by his own countrymen,
or triumphing over them. Did I require you to save your country by
ruining the Volscians, then, I confess, my son, the case would be hard
for you to solve. It is base to bring destitution on our fellow-
citizens; it is unjust to betray those who have placed their confidence
in us. But, as it is, we do but desire a deliverance equally expedient
for them and us; only more glorious and honorable on the Volscian side,
who, as superior in arms, will be thought freely to bestow the two
greatest of blessings, peace and friendship, even when they themselves
receive the same. If we obtain these, the common thanks will be chiefly
due to you as the principal cause; but if they be not granted, you alone
must expect to bear the blame from both nations. The chance of all war
is uncertain, yet thus much is certain in the present, that you, by
conquering Rome, will only get the reputation of having undone your
country; but if the Volscians happen to be defeated under your conduct,
then the world will say, that, to satisfy a revengeful humor, you
brought misery on your friends and patrons."

Marcius listened to his mother while she spoke, without answering her a
word; and Volumnia, seeing him stand mute also for a long time after she
had ceased, resumed: "O my son," said she, "what is the meaning of this
silence? Is it a duty to postpone everything to a sense of injuries,
and wrong to gratify a mother in a request like this? Is it the
characteristic of a great man to remember wrongs that have been done
him, and not the part of a great and good man to remember benefits such
as those that children receive from parents, and to requite them with
honor and respect? You, methinks, who are so relentless in the
punishment of the ungrateful, should not be more careless than others to
be grateful yourself. You have punished your country already; you have
not yet paid your debt to me. Nature and religion, surely, unattended
by any constraint, should have won your consent to petitions so worthy
and so just as these; but if it must be so, I will even use my last
resource." Having said this, she threw herself down at his feet, as did
also his wife and children; upon which Marcius, crying out, "O mother!
what is it you have done to me?" raised her up from the ground, and
pressing her right hand with more than ordinary vehemence, "You have
gained a victory," said he, "fortunate enough for the Romans, but
destructive to your son; whom you, though none else, have defeated."
After which, and a little private conference with his mother and his
wife, he sent them back again to Rome, as they desired of him.

The next morning, he broke up his camp, and led the Volscians homeward,
variously affected with what he had done; some of them complaining of
him and condemning his act, others, who were inclined to a peaceful
conclusion, unfavorable to neither. A third party, while much disliking
his proceedings, yet could not look upon Marcius as a treacherous
person, but thought it pardonable in him to be thus shaken and driven to
surrender at last, under such compulsion. None, however, opposed his
commands; they all obediently followed him, though rather from
admiration of his virtue, than any regard they now had to his authority.
The Roman people, meantime, more effectually manifested how much fear
and danger they had been in while the war lasted, by their deportment
after they were freed from it. Those that guarded the walls had no
sooner given notice that the Volscians were dislodged and drawn off, but
they set open all their temples in a moment, and began to crown
themselves with garlands and prepare for sacrifice, as they were wont to
do upon tidings brought of any signal victory. But the joy and
transport of the whole city was chiefly remarkable in the honors and
marks of affection paid to the women, as well by the senate as the
people in general; every one declaring that they were, beyond all
question, the instruments of the public safety. And the senate having
passed a decree that whatsoever they would ask in the way of any favor
or honor should be allowed and done for them by the magistrates, they
demanded simply that a temple might be erected to Female Fortune, the
expense of which they offered to defray out of their own contributions,
if the city would be at the cost of sacrifices, and other matters
pertaining to the due honor of the gods, out of the common treasury.
The senate, much commending their public spirit, caused the temple to be
built and a statue set up in it at the public charge; they, however,
made up a sum among themselves, for a second image of Fortune, which
the Romans say uttered, as it was putting up, words to this effect,
"Blessed of the gods, O women, is your gift."

These words they profess were repeated a second time, expecting our
belief for what seems pretty nearly an impossibility. It may be
possible enough, that statues may seem to sweat, and to run with tears,
and to stand with certain dewy drops of a sanguine color; for timber and
stones are frequently known to contract a kind of scurf and rottenness,
productive of moisture; and various tints may form on the surfaces, both
from within and from the action of the air outside; and by these signs
it is not absurd to imagine that the deity may forewarn us. It may
happen, also, that images and statues may sometimes make a noise not
unlike that of a moan or groan, through a rupture or violent internal
separation of the parts; but that an articulate voice, and such express
words, and language so clear and exact and elaborate, should proceed
from inanimate things, is, in my judgment, a thing utterly out of
possibility. For it was never known that either the soul of man, or the
deity himself, uttered vocal sounds and language, alone, without an
organized body and members fitted for speech. But where history seems
in a manner to force our assent by the concurrence of numerous and
credible witnesses, we are to conclude that an impression distinct from
sensation affects the imaginative part of our nature, and then carries
away the judgment, so as to believe it to be a sensation: just as in
sleep we fancy we see and hear, without really doing either. Persons,
however, whose strong feelings of reverence to the deity, and tenderness
for religion, will not allow them to deny or invalidate anything of
this kind, have certainly a strong argument for their faith, in the
wonderful and transcendent character of the divine power; which admits
no manner of comparison with ours, either in its nature or its action,
the modes or the strength of its operations. It is no contradiction to
reason that it should do things that we cannot do, and effect what for
us is impracticable: differing from us in all respects, in its acts yet
more than in other points we may well believe it to be unlike us and
remote from us. Knowledge of divine things for the most part, as
Heraclitus says, is lost to us by incredulity.

When Marcius came back to Antium, Tullus, who thoroughly hated and
greatly feared him, proceeded at once to contrive how he might
immediately dispatch him; as, if he escaped now, he was never likely to
give him such another advantage. Having, therefore, got together and
suborned several partisans against him, he required Marcius to resign
his charge, and give the Volscians all account of his administration.
He, apprehending the danger of a private condition, while Tullus held
the office of general and exercised the greatest power among his fellow-
citizens, made answer, that he was ready to lay down his commission,
whenever those from whose common authority he had received it, should
think fit to recall it; and that in the meantime he was ready to give
the Antiates satisfaction, as to all particulars of his conduct, if they
were desirous of it.

An assembly was called, and popular speakers, as had been concerted,
came forward to exasperate and incense the multitude; but when Marcius
stood up to answer, the more unruly and tumultuous part of the people
became quiet on a sudden, and out of reverence allowed him to speak
without the least disturbance; while all the better people, and such as
were satisfied with a peace, made it evident by their whole behavior,
that they would give him a favorable hearing, and judge and pronounce
according to equity.

Tullus, therefore, began to dread the issue of the defense he was going
to make for himself; for he was an admirable speaker, and the former
services he had done the Volscians had procured and still preserved for
him greater kindness than could be outweighed by any blame for his late
conduct. Indeed, the very accusation itself was a proof and testimony
of the greatness of his merits, since people could never have complained
or thought themselves wronged, because Rome was not brought into their
power, but that by his means they had come so near to taking it. For
these reasons, the conspirators judged it prudent not to make any
further delays, nor to test the general feeling; but the boldest of
their faction, crying out that they ought not to listen to a traitor,
nor allow him still to retain office and play the tyrant among them,
fell upon Marcius in a body, and slew him there, none of those that were
present offering to defend him. But it quickly appeared that the action
was in nowise approved by the majority of the Volscians, who hurried out
of their several cities to show respect to his corpse; to which they
gave honorable interment, adorning his sepulchre with arms and trophies,
as the monument of a noble hero and a famous general. When the Romans
heard tidings of his death, they gave no other signification either of
honor or of anger towards him, but simply granted the request of the
women, that they might put themselves into mourning and bewail him for
ten months, as the usage was upon the loss of a father or a son or a
brother; that being the period fixed for the longest lamentation by the
laws of Numa Pompilius, as is more amply told in the account of him.

Marcius was no sooner deceased, but the Volscians felt the need of his
assistance. They quarreled first with the Aequians, their confederates
and their friends, about the appointment of the general of their joint
forces, and carried their dispute to the length of bloodshed and
slaughter; and were then defeated by the Romans in a pitched battle,
where not only Tullus lost his life, but the principal flower of their
whole army was cut in pieces; so that they were forced to submit and
accept of peace upon very dishonorable terms, becoming subjects of Rome,
and pledging themselves to submission.


Having described all their actions that seem to deserve commemoration,
their military ones, we may say, incline the balance very decidedly upon
neither side. They both, in pretty equal measure, displayed on numerous
occasions the daring and courage of the soldier, and the skill and
foresight of the general; unless, indeed, the fact that Alcibiades was
victorious and successful in many contests both by sea and land, ought
to gain him the title of a more complete commander. That so long as
they remained and held command in their respective countries, they
eminently sustained, and when they were driven into exile, yet more
eminently damaged the fortunes of those countries, is common to both.
All the sober citizens felt disgust at the petulance, the low flattery,
and base seductions which Alcibiades, in his public life, allowed
himself to employ with the view of winning the people's favor; and the
ungraciousness, pride, and oligarchical haughtiness which Marcius, on
the other hand, displayed in his, were the abhorrence of the Roman
populace. Neither of these courses can be called commendable; but a man
who ingratiates himself by indulgence and flattery, is hardly so
censurable as one who, to avoid the appearance of flattering, insults.
To seek power by servility to the people is a disgrace, but to maintain
it by terror, violence, and oppression, is not a disgrace only, but an

Marcius, according to our common conceptions of his character, was
undoubtedly simple and straightforward; Alcibiades, unscrupulous as a
public man, and false. He is more especially blamed for the
dishonorable and treacherous way in which, as Thucydides relates, he
imposed upon the Lacedaemonian ambassadors, and disturbed the
continuance of the peace. Yet this policy, which engaged the city again
in war, nevertheless placed it in a powerful and formidable position, by
the accession, which Alcibiades obtained for it, of the alliance of
Argos and Mantinea. And Coriolanus also, Dionysius relates, used unfair
means to excite war between the Romans and the Volscians, in the false
report which he spread about the visitors at the Games; and the motive
of this action seems to make it the worse of the two; since it was not
done, like the other, out of ordinary political jealousy, strife, and
competition. Simply to gratify anger, from which, as Ion says, no one
ever yet got any return, he threw whole districts of Italy into
confusion, and sacrificed to his passion against his country numerous
innocent cities. It is true, indeed, that Alcibiades also, by his
resentment, was the occasion of great disasters to his country, but he
relented as soon as he found their feelings to be changed; and after he
was driven out a second time, so far from taking pleasure in the errors
and inadvertencies of their commanders, or being indifferent to the
danger they were thus incurring, he did the very thing that Aristides is
so highly commended for doing to Themistocles: he came to the generals
who were his enemies, and pointed out to them what they ought to do.
Coriolanus, on the other hand, first of all attacked the whole body of
his countrymen, though only one portion of them had done him any wrong,
while the other, the better and nobler portion, had actually suffered,
as well as sympathized, with him. And, secondly, by the obduracy with
which he resisted numerous embassies and supplications, addressed in
propitiation of his single anger and offense, he showed that it had been
to destroy and overthrow, not to recover and regain his country, that he
had excited bitter and implacable hostilities against it. There is,
indeed, one distinction that may be drawn. Alcibiades, it may be said,
was not safe among the Spartans, and had the inducements at once of fear
and of hatred to lead him again to Athens; whereas Marcius could not
honorably have left the Volscians, when they were behaving so well to
him: he, in the command of their forces and the enjoyment of their
entire confidence, was in a very different position from Alcibiades,
whom the Lacedaemonians did not so much wish to adopt into their
service, as to use, and then abandon. Driven about from house to house
in the city, and from general to general in the camp, the latter had no
resort but to place himself in the hands of Tisaphernes; unless, indeed,
we are to suppose that his object in courting favor with him was to
avert the entire destruction of his native city, whither he wished
himself to return.

As regards money, Alcibiades, we are told, was often guilty of procuring
it by accepting bribes, and spent it in in luxury and dissipation.
Coriolanus declined to receive it, even when pressed upon him by his
commanders as all honor; and one great reason for the odium he incurred
with the populace in the discussions about their debts was, that he
trampled upon the poor, not for money's sake, but out of pride and

Antipater, in a letter written upon the death of Aristotle the
philosopher, observes, "Amongst his other gifts he had that of
persuasiveness;" and the absence of this in the character of Marcius
made all his great actions and noble qualities unacceptable to those
whom they benefited: pride, and self-will, the consort, as Plato calls
it, of solitude, made him insufferable. With the skill which Alcibiades
on the contrary, possessed to treat every one in the way most agreeable
to him, we cannot wonder that all his successes were attended with the
most exuberant favor and honor; his very errors, at times, being
accompanied by something of grace and felicity. And so, in spite of
great and frequent hurt that he had done the city, he was repeatedly
appointed to office and command; while Coriolanus stood in vain for a
place which his great services had made his due. The one, in spite of
the harm he occasioned, could not make himself hated, nor the other,
with all the admiration he attracted, succeed in being beloved by his

Coriolanus, moreover, it should be said, did not as a general obtain any
successes for his country, but only for his enemies against his country.
Alcibiades was often of service to Athens, both as a soldier and as a
commander. So long as he was personally present, he had the perfect
mastery of his political adversaries; calumny only succeeded in his
absence. Coriolanus was condemned in person at Rome; and in like manner
killed by the Volscians, not indeed with any right or justice, yet not
without some pretext occasioned by his own acts; since, after rejecting
all conditions of peace in public, in private he yielded to the
solicitations of the women, and, without establishing peace, threw up
the favorable chances of war. He ought, before retiring, to have
obtained the consent of those who had placed their trust in him; if
indeed he considered their claims on him to be the strongest. Or, if we
say that he did not care about the Volscians, but merely had prosecuted
the war, which he now abandoned, for the satisfaction of his own
resentment, then the noble thing would have been, not to spare his
country for his mother's sake, but his mother in and with his country;
since both his mother and his wife were part and parcel of that
endangered country. After harshly repelling public supplications, the
entreaties of ambassadors, and the prayers of priests, to concede all as
a private favor to his mother was less an honor to her than a dishonor
to the city which thus escaped, in spite, it would seem, of its own
demerits, through the intercession of a single woman. Such a grace
could, indeed, seem merely invidious, ungracious, and unreasonable in
the eyes of both parties; he retreated without listening to the
persuasions of his opponents, or asking the consent of his friends. The
origin of all lay in his unsociable, supercilious, and self-willed
disposition, which, in all cases, is offensive to most people; and when
combined with a passion for distinction passes into absolute savageness
and mercilessness. Men decline to ask favors of the people, professing
not to need any honors from them; and then are indignant if they do not
obtain them. Metellus, Aristides, and Epaminondas certainly did not beg
favors of the multitude; but that was because they, in real truth, did
not value the gifts which a popular body can either confer or refuse;
and when they were more than once driven into exile, rejected at
elections, and condemned in courts of justice, they showed no resentment
at the ill-humor of their fellow-citizens, but were willing and
contented to return and be reconciled when the feeling altered and they
were wished for. He who least likes courting favor, ought also least to
think of resenting neglect: to feel wounded at being refused a
distinction can only arise from an overweening appetite to have it.

Alcibiades never professed to deny that it was pleasant to him to be
honored, and distasteful to him to be overlooked; and, accordingly, he
always tried to place himself upon good terms with all that he met;
Coriolanus's pride forbade him to pay attentions to those who could have
promoted his advancement, and yet his love of distinction made him feel
hurt and angry when he was disregarded. Such are the faulty parts of
his character, which in all other respects was a noble one. For his
temperance, continence, and probity, he might claim to be compared with
the best and purest of the Greeks; not in any sort or kind with
Alcibiades, the least scrupulous and most entirely careless of human
beings in all these points.


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

Their stature and their qualities,

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

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 superstitions. 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. Of this kind are those of Timoleon the Corinthian, and
Paulus Aemilius, to write whose lives is my present business; men
equally famous, not only for their virtues, but success; insomuch
that they have left it doubtful whether they owe their greatest
achievements to good fortune, or their own prudence and conduct.

The affairs of the Syracusans, before Timoleon was sent into Sicily,
were in this posture: after Dion had driven out Dionysius the
tyrant, he was slain by treachery, and those that had assisted him in
delivering Syracuse were divided among themselves; and thus the city,
by a continual change of governors, and a train of mischiefs that
succeeded each other, became almost abandoned; while of the rest of
Sicily, part was now utterly depopulated and desolate through long
continuance of war, and most of the cities that had been left
standing were in the hands of barbarians and soldiers out of
employment, that were ready to embrace every turn of government.
Such being the state of things, Dionysius takes the opportunity, and
in the tenth year of his banishment, by the help of some mercenary
troops he had got together, forces out Nysaeus, then master of
Syracuse, recovers all afresh, and is again settled in his dominion;
and as at first he had been strangely deprived of the greatest and
most absolute power that ever was, by a very small party, so now in a
yet stranger manner; when in exile and of mean condition, he became
the sovereign of those who had ejected him. All, therefore, that
remained in Syracuse, had to serve under a tyrant, who at the best
was of an ungentle nature, and exasperated now to a degree of
savageness by the late misfortunes and calamities he had suffered.
The better and more distinguished citizens, having timely retired
thence to Hicetes, ruler of the Leontines, put themselves under his
protection, and chose him for their general in the war; not that he
was much preferable to any open and avowed tyrant; but they had no
other sanctuary at present, and it gave them some ground of
confidence, that he was of a Syracusan family, and had forces able to
encounter those of Dionysius.

In the meantime, the Carthaginians appeared before Sicily with a
great navy, watching when and where they might make a descent upon
the island; and terror at this fleet made the Sicilians incline to
send an embassy into Greece to demand succors from the Corinthians,
whom they confided in rather than others, not only upon the account
of their near kindred, and the great benefits they had often received
by trusting them, but because Corinth had ever shown herself attached
to freedom and averse from tyranny, and had engaged in many noble
wars, not for empire or aggrandizement, but for the sole liberty of
the Greeks. But Hicetes, 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 dispatched ambassadors from himself,
together with theirs, into Peloponnesus; not that he really desired
any relief to come from there, but, in case the Corinthians, as was
likely enough, on account of the troubles of Greece and occupation at
home, should refuse their assistance, hoping then he should be able
with less difficulty to dispose and incline things for the
Carthaginian interest, and so make use of these foreign pretenders,
as instruments and auxiliaries for himself, either against the
Syracusans or Dionysius, as occasion served. This was discovered a
while after.

The ambassadors being arrived, and their request known, the
Corinthians, who had always a great concern for all their colonies
and plantations, but especially for Syracuse, since by good fortune
there was nothing to molest them in their own country, where they
were enjoying peace and leisure at that time, readily and with one
accord passed a vote for their assistance. And when they were
deliberating about the choice of a captain for the expedition, and
the magistrates were urging the claims of various aspirants for
reputation, one of the crowd stood up and named Timoleon, son of
Timodemus, who had long absented himself from public business, and
had neither any thoughts of, nor the least pretension to, an
employment of that nature. Some god or other, it might rather seem,
had put it in the man's heart to mention him; such favor and
good-will on the part of Fortune seemed at once to be shown in his
election, and to accompany all his following actions, as though it
were on purpose to commend his worth, and add grace and ornament to
his personal virtues. As regards his parentage, both Timodemus his
father, and his mother Demariste, were of high rank in the city; and
as for himself, he was noted for his love of his country, and his
gentleness of temper, except in his extreme hatred to tyrants and
wicked men. His natural abilities for war were so happily tempered,
that while a rare prudence might be seen in all the enterprises of
his younger years, an equal courage showed itself in the last
exploits of his declining age. He had an elder brother, whose name
was Timophanes, who was every way unlike him, being indiscreet and
rash, and infected by the suggestions of some friends and foreign
soldiers, whom he kept always about him, with a passion for absolute
power. He seemed to have a certain force and vehemence in all
military service, and even to delight in dangers, and thus he took
much with the people, and was advanced to the highest charges, as a
vigorous and effective warrior; in the obtaining of which offices and
promotions, Timoleon much assisted him, helping to conceal or at
least to extenuate his errors, embellishing by his praise whatever
was commendable in him, and setting off his good qualities to the
best advantage.

It happened once in the battle fought by the Corinthians against the
forces of Argos and Cleonae, that Timoleon served among the infantry,
when Timophanes, commanding their cavalry, was brought into extreme
danger; as his horse being wounded fell forward, and threw him
headlong amidst the enemies, while part of his companions dispersed
at once in a panic, and the small number that remained, bearing up
against a great multitude, had much ado to maintain any resistance.
As soon, therefore, as Timoleon was aware of the accident, he ran
hastily in to his brother's rescue, and covering the fallen
Timophanes with his buckler, after having received abundance of
darts, and several strokes by the sword upon his body and his armor,
he at length with much difficulty obliged the enemies to retire, and
brought off his brother alive and safe. But when the Corinthians, for
fear of losing their city a second time, as they had once before, by
admitting their allies, made a decree to maintain four hundred
mercenaries for its security, and gave Timophanes the command over
them, he, abandoning all regard to honor and equity, at once
proceeded to put into execution his plans for making himself
absolute, and bringing the place under his own power; and having cut
off many principal citizens, uncondemned and without trial, who were
most likely to hinder his design, he declared himself tyrant of
Corinth; a procedure that infinitely afflicted Timoleon, to whom the
wickedness of such a brother appeared to be his own reproach and
calamity. He undertook to persuade him by reasoning, that, desisting
from that wild and unhappy ambition, he would bethink himself how he
should make the Corinthians some amends, and find out an expedient to
remedy and correct the evils he had done them. When his single
admonition was rejected and contemned by him, he makes a second
attempt, taking with him Aeschylus his kinsman, brother to the wife
of Timophanes, and a certain diviner, that was his friend, whom
Theopompus in his history calls Satyrus, but Ephorus and Timaeus
mention in theirs by the name of Orthagoras. After a few days, then,
he returns to his brother with this company, all three of them
surrounding and earnestly importuning him upon the same subject, that
now at length he would listen to reason, and be of another mind. But
when Timophanes began first to laugh at the men's simplicity, and
presently broke out into rage and indignation against them, Timoleon
stepped aside from him and stood weeping with his face covered, while
the other two, drawing out their swords, dispatched him in a moment.

On the rumor of this act being soon scattered about, the better and
more generous of the Corinthians highly applauded Timoleon for the
hatred of wrong and the greatness of soul that had made him, though
of a gentle disposition and full of love and kindness for his family,
think the obligations to his country stronger than the ties of
consanguinity, and prefer that which is good and just before gain and
interest and his own particular advantage. For the same brother, who
with so much bravery had been saved by him when he fought valiantly
in the cause of Corinth, he had now as nobly sacrificed for enslaving
her afterward by a base and treacherous usurpation. But then, on the
other side, those that knew not how to live in a democracy, and had
been used to make their humble court to the men of power, though they
openly professed to rejoice at the death of the tyrant, nevertheless,
secretly reviling Timoleon, as one that had committed an impious and
abominable act, drove him into melancholy and dejection. And when he
came to understand how heavily his mother took it, and that she
likewise uttered the saddest complaints and most terrible
imprecations against him, he went to satisfy and comfort her as to
what had happened; and finding that she would not endure so much as
to look upon him, but caused her doors to be shut, that he might have
no admission into her presence, with grief at this he grew so
disordered in his mind and so disconsolate, that he determined to put
an end to his perplexity with his life, by abstaining from all manner
of sustenance. But through the care and diligence of his friends,
who were very instant with him, and added force to their entreaties,
he came to resolve and promise at last, that he would endure living,
provided it might be in solitude, and remote from company; so that,
quitting all civil transactions and commerce with the world, for a
long while after his first retirement he never came into Corinth, but
wandered up and down the fields, full of anxious and tormenting
thoughts, and spent his time in desert places, at the farthest
distance from society and human intercourse. So true it is that the
minds of men are easily shaken and carried off from their own
sentiments through the casual commendation or reproof of others,
unless the judgments that we make, and the purposes we conceive, be
confirmed by reason and philosophy, and thus obtain strength and
steadiness. An action must not only be just and laudable in its own
nature, but it must proceed likewise from solid motives and a lasting
principle, that so we may fully and constantly approve the thing, and
be perfectly satisfied in what we do; for otherwise, after having put
our resolution into practice, we shall out of pure weakness come to
be troubled at the performance, when the grace and goodliness, which
rendered it before so amiable and pleasing to us, begin to decay and
wear out of our fancy; like greedy people, who, seizing on the more
delicious morsels of any dish with a keen appetite, are presently
disgusted when they grow full, and find themselves oppressed and
uneasy now by what they before so greedily desired. For a succeeding
dislike spoils the best of actions, and repentance makes that which
was never so well done, become base and faulty; whereas the choice
that is founded upon knowledge and wise reasoning, does not change by
disappointment, or suffer us to repent, though it happen perchance to
be less prosperous in the issue. And thus Phocion, of Athens, having
always vigorously opposed the measures of Leosthenes, when success
appeared to attend them, and he saw his countrymen rejoicing and
offering sacrifice in honor of their victory, "I should have been as
glad," said he to them, "that I myself had been the author of what
Leosthenes has achieved for you, as I am that I gave you my own
counsel against it." A more vehement reply is recorded to have been
made by Aristides the Locrian, one of Plato's companions, to
Dionysius the elder, who demanded one of his daughters in marriage:
"I had rather," said he to him, "see the virgin in her grave, than in
the palace of a tyrant." And when Dionysius, enraged at the affront,
made his sons be put to death a while after, and then again
insultingly asked, whether he were still in the same mind as to the
disposal of his daughters, his answer was, "I cannot but grieve at
the cruelty of your deeds, but am not sorry for the freedom of my own
words." Such expressions as these may belong perhaps to a more
sublime and accomplished virtue.

The grief, however, of Timoleon at what had been done, whether it
arose from commiseration of his brother's fate, or the reverence he
bore his mother, so shattered and broke his spirits, that for the
space of almost twenty years, he had not offered to concern himself
in any honorable or public action. When, therefore, he was pitched
upon for a general, and joyfully accepted as such by the suffrages of
the people, Teleclides, who was at that time the most powerful and
distinguished man in Corinth, began to exhort him that he would act
now like a man of worth and gallantry: "For," said he, "if you do
bravely in this service, we shall believe that you delivered us from
a tyrant; but if otherwise, that you killed your brother." While he
was yet preparing to set sail, and enlisting soldiers to embark with
him, there came letters to the Corinthians from Hicetes, plainly
disclosing his revolt and treachery. For his ambassadors were no
sooner gone for Corinth, but he openly joined the Carthaginians,
negotiating that they might assist him to throw out Dionysius, and
become master of Syracuse in his room. And fearing he might be
disappointed of his aim, if troops and a commander should come from
Corinth before this were effected, he sent a letter of advice
thither, in all haste, to prevent their setting out, telling them
they need not be at any cost and trouble upon his account, or run the
hazard of a Sicilian voyage, especially since the Carthaginians,
alliance with whom against Dionysius the slowness of their motions
had compelled him to embrace, would dispute their passage, and lay in
wait to attack them with a numerous fleet. This letter being
publicly read, if any had been cold and indifferent before as to the
expedition in hand, the indignation they now conceived against
Hicetes so exasperated and inflamed them all, that they willingly
contributed to supply Timoleon, and endeavored, with one accord, to
hasten his departure.

When the vessels were equipped, and his soldiers every way provided
for, the female priests of Proserpina had a dream or vision, wherein
she and her mother Ceres appeared to them in a traveling garb, and
were heard to say that they were going to sail with Timoleon into
Sicily; whereupon the Corinthians, having built a sacred galley,
devoted it to them, and called it the galley of the goddesses.
Timoleon went in person to Delphi, where he sacrificed to Apollo,
and, descending into the place of prophecy, was surprised with the
following marvelous occurrence. A riband with crowns and figures of
victory embroidered upon it, slipped off from among the gifts that
were there consecrated and hung up in the temple, and fell directly
down upon his head; so that Apollo seemed already to crown him with
success, and send him thence to conquer and triumph. He put to sea
only with seven ships of Corinth, two of Corcyra, and a tenth which
was furnished by the Leucadians; and when he was now entered into the
deep by night, and carried with a prosperous gale, the heaven seemed
all on a sudden to break open, and a bright spreading flame to issue
forth from it, and hover over the ship he was in; and, having formed
itself into a torch, not unlike those that are used in the mysteries,
it began to steer the same course, and run along in their company,
guiding them by its light to that quarter of Italy where they
designed to go ashore. The soothsayers affirmed, that this
apparition agreed with the dream of the holy women, since the
goddesses were now visibly joining in the expedition, and sending
this light from heaven before them: Sicily being thought sacred to
Proserpina, as poets feign that the rape was committed there, and
that the island was given her in dowry when she married Pluto.

These early demonstrations of divine favor greatly encouraged his
whole army; so that, making all the speed they were able, by a voyage
across the open sea, they were soon passing along the coast of Italy.
But the tidings that came from Sicily much perplexed Timoleon, and
disheartened his soldiers. For Hicetes, having already beaten
Dionysius out of the field, and reduced most of the quarters of
Syracuse itself, now hemmed him in and besieged him in the citadel
and what is called the Island, whither he was fled for his last
refuge; while the Carthaginians, by agreement, were to make it their
business to hinder Timoleon from landing in any port of Sicily; so
that he and his party being driven back, they might with ease and at
their own leisure divide the island among themselves. In pursuance
of which design, the Carthaginians sent away twenty of their galleys
to Rhegium, having aboard them certain ambassadors from Hicetes to
Timoleon, who carried instructions suitable to these proceedings,
specious amusements and plausible stories, to color and conceal
dishonest purposes. They had order to propose and demand that
Timoleon himself, if he liked the offer, should come to advise with
Hicetes, and partake of all his conquests, but that he might send
back his ships and forces to Corinth, since the war was in a manner
finished, and the Carthaginians had blocked up the passage,
determined to oppose them if they should try to force their way
towards the shore. When, therefore, the Corinthians met with these
envoys at Rhegium, and received their message, and saw the Phoenician
vessels riding at anchor in the bay, they became keenly sensible of
the abuse that was put upon them, and felt a general indignation
against Hicetes, and great apprehensions for the Siceliots, whom they
now plainly perceived to be as it were a prize and recompense to
Hicetes on one side for his perfidy, and to the Carthaginians on the
other for the sovereign power they secured to him. 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 Hicetes had with him in Syracuse, to take the
lead of which very troops they had undertaken their voyage.

The case being thus, Timoleon, after some conference with the envoys
of Hicetes 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 which was, only to divert their attention, while he
got an opportunity of slipping away from their fleet: a contrivance
that all the principal Rhegians were privy and assisting to, who had
a great desire that the affairs of Sicily should fall into Corinthian
hands, and dreaded the consequences of having barbarian neighbors.
An assembly was therefore called, and the gates shut, that the
citizens might have no liberty to turn to other business; and a
succession of speakers came forward, addressing the people at great
length, to the same effect, without bringing the subject to any
conclusion, making way each for another and purposely spinning out
the time, till the Corinthian galleys should get clear of the haven;
the Carthaginian commanders being detained there without any
suspicion, as also Timoleon still remained present, and gave signs as
if he were just preparing to make an oration. But upon secret notice
that the rest of the galleys were already gone on, and that his alone
remained waiting for him, by the help and concealment of those
Rhegians that were about the hustings and favored his departure, he
made shift to slip away through the crowd, and, running down to the
port, set sail with all speed; and having reached his other vessels,
they came all safe to Tauromenium in Sicily, whither they had been
formerly invited, and where they were now kindly received by
Andromachus, then ruler of the city. This man was father of Timaeus
the historian, and incomparably the best of all those that bore sway
in Sicily at that time, governing his citizens according to law and
justice, and openly professing an aversion and enmity to all tyrants;
upon which account he gave Timoleon leave to muster up his troops
there, and to make that city the seat of war, persuading the
inhabitants to join their arms with the Corinthian forces, and assist
them in the design of delivering Sicily.

But the Carthaginians who were left in Rhegium perceiving, when the
assembly was dissolved, that Timoleon had given them the go by, were
not a little vexed to see themselves outwitted, much to the amusement
of the Rhegians, who could not but smile to find Phoenicians complain
of being cheated. However, they dispatched a messenger aboard one of
their galleys to Tauromenium, who, after much blustering in the
insolent barbaric way, and many menaces to Andromachus if he did not
forthwith send the Corinthians off, stretched out his hand with the
inside upward, and then turning it down again, threatened he would
handle their city even so, and turn it topsy-turvy in as little time,
and with as much ease. Andromachus, laughing at the man's
confidence, made no other reply, but, imitating his gesture, bid him
hasten his own departure, unless he had a mind to see that kind of
dexterity practiced first upon the galley which brought him thither.

Hicetes, informed that Timoleon had made good his passage, was in
great fear of what might follow, and sent to desire the Carthaginians
that a large number of galleys might be ordered to attend and secure
the coast. And now it was that the Syracusans began wholly to
despair of safety, seeing the Carthaginians possessed of their haven,
Hicetes master of the town, and Dionysius supreme in the citadel;
while Timoleon had as yet but a slender hold of Sicily, as it were by
the fringe or border of it, in the small city of the Tauromenians,
with a feeble hope and a poor company; having but a thousand soldiers
at the most, and no more provisions, either of corn or money, than
were just necessary for the maintenance and the pay of that
inconsiderable number. Nor did the other towns of Sicily confide in
him, overpowered as they were with violence and outrage, and
embittered against all that should offer to lead armies, by the
treacherous conduct chiefly of Callippus, an Athenian, and Pharax, a
Lacedaemonian captain, both of whom, after giving out that the design
of their coming was to introduce liberty and depose tyrants, so
tyrannized themselves, that the reign of former oppressors seemed to
be a golden age in comparison, and the Sicilians began to consider
those more happy who had expired in servitude, than any that had
lived to see such a dismal freedom.

Looking, therefore, for no better usage from the Corinthian general,
but imagining that it was only the same old course of things once
more, specious presences and false professions to allure them by fair
hopes and kind promises into the obedience of a new master, they all,
with one accord, unless it were the people of Adranum, suspected the
exhortations, and rejected the overtures that were made them in his
name. These were inhabitants of a small city, consecrated to
Adranus, a certain god that was in high veneration throughout Sicily,
and, as it happened, they were then at variance among themselves,
insomuch that one party called in Hicetes and the Carthaginians to
assist them, while the other sent proposals to Timoleon. It so fell
out that these auxiliaries, striving which should be soonest, both
arrived at Adranum about the same time; Hicetes bringing with him at
least five thousand fighting men, while all the force Timoleon could
make did not exceed twelve hundred. With these he marched out of
Tauromenium, which was about three hundred and forty furlongs distant
from that city. The first day he moved but slowly, and took up his
quarters betimes after a short journey; but the day following he
quickened his pace, and, having passed through much difficult ground,
towards evening received advice that Hicetes was just approaching
Adranum, and pitching his camp before it; upon which intelligence,
his captains and other officers caused the vanguard to halt, that the
army being refreshed, and having reposed a while, might engage the
enemy with better heart. But Timoleon, coming up in haste, desired
them not to stop for that reason, but rather use all possible
diligence to surprise the enemy, whom probably they would now find in
disorder, as having lately ended their march, and being taken up at
present in erecting tents and preparing supper; which he had no
sooner said, but laying hold of his buckler and putting himself in
the front, he led them on as it were to certain victory. The
braveness of such a leader made them all follow him with like courage
and assurance. They were now within less than thirty furlongs of
Adranum, which they quickly traversed, and immediately fell in upon
the enemy, who were seized with confusion, and began to retire at
their first approaches; one consequence of which was that amidst so
little opposition, and so early and general a flight, there were not
many more than three hundred slain, and about twice the number made
prisoners. Their camp and baggage, however, was all taken. The
fortune of this onset soon induced the Adranitans to unlock their
gates, and embrace the interest of Timoleon, to whom they recounted,
with a mixture of affright and admiration, how, at the very minute of
the encounter, the doors of their temple flew open of their own
accord, that the javelin also, which their god held in his hand, was
observed to tremble at the point, and that drops of sweat had been
seen running down his face: prodigies that not only presaged the
victory then obtained, but were an omen, it seems, of all his future
exploits, to which this first happy action gave the occasion.

For now the neighboring cities and potentates sent deputies, one upon
another, to seek his friendship and make offer of their service.
Among the rest, Mamercus, the tyrant of Catana, an experienced
warrior and a wealthy prince, made proposals of alliance with him,
and, what was of greater importance still, Dionysius himself being
now grown desperate, and wellnigh forced to surrender, despising
Hicetes who had been thus shamefully baffled, and admiring the valor
of Timoleon, found means to advertise him and his Corinthians that he
should be content to deliver up himself and the citadel into their
hands. Timoleon, gladly embracing this unlooked for advantage, sends
away Euclides and Telemachus, two Corinthian captains, with four
hundred men, for the seizure and custody of the castle, with
directions to enter not all at once, or in open view, that being
impracticable so long as the enemy kept guard, but by stealth, and in
small companies. And so they took possession of the fortress, and
the palace of Dionysius, with all the stores and ammunition he had
prepared and laid up to maintain the war. They found a good number
of horses, every variety of engines, a multitude of darts, and
weapons to arm seventy thousand men (a magazine that had been formed
from ancient time), besides two thousand soldiers that were then with
him, whom he gave up with the rest for Timoleon's service. Dionysius
himself, putting his treasure aboard, and taking a few friends,
sailed away unobserved by Hicetes, and being brought to the camp of
Timoleon, there first appeared in the humble dress of a private
person, and was shortly after sent to Corinth with a single ship and
a small sum of money. Born and educated in the most splendid court
and the most absolute monarchy that ever was, which he held and kept
up for the space of ten years succeeding his father's death, he had,
after Dion's expedition, spent twelve other years in a continual
agitation of wars and contests, and great variety of fortune, during
which time all the mischiefs he had committed in his former reign
were more than repaid by the ills he himself then suffered; since he
lived to see the deaths of his sons in the prime and vigor of their
age, and the rape of his daughters in the flower of their virginity,
and the wicked abuse of his sister and his wife, who, after being
first exposed to all the lawless insults of the soldiery, was then
murdered with her children, and cast into the sea; the particulars of
which are more exactly given in the life of Dion.

Upon the news of his landing at Corinth, there was hardly a man in
Greece who had not the curiosity to come and view the late formidable
tyrant, and say some words to him; part, rejoicing at his disasters,
were led thither out of mere spite and hatred, that they might have
the pleasure of trampling, as it were, on the ruins of his broken
fortune; but others, letting their attention and their sympathy turn
rather to the changes and revolutions of his life, could not but see
in them a proof of the strength and potency with which divine and
unseen causes operate amidst the weakness of human and visible
things. For neither art nor nature did in that age produce anything
comparable to this work and wonder of fortune, which showed the very
same man, that was not long before supreme monarch of Sicily,
loitering about perhaps in the fish-market, or sitting in a
perfumer's shop, drinking the diluted wine of taverns, or squabbling
in the street with common women, or pretending to instruct the
singing women of the theater, and seriously disputing with them about
the measure and harmony of pieces of music that were performed there.
Such behavior on his part was variously criticized. He was thought
by many to act thus out of pure compliance with his own natural
indolent and vicious inclinations; while finer judges were of
opinion, that in all this he was playing a politic part, with a
design to be contemned among them, and that the Corinthians might not
feel any apprehension or suspicion of his being uneasy under his
reverse of fortune, or solicitous to retrieve it; to avoid which
dangers, he purposely and against his true nature affected an
appearance of folly and want of spirit in his private life and

However it be, there are sayings and repartees of his left still upon
record, which seem to show that he not ignobly accommodated himself
to his present circumstances; as may appear in part from the
ingenuousness of the avowal he made on coming to Leucadia, which, as
well as Syracuse, was a Corinthian colony, where he told the
inhabitants, that he found himself not unlike boys who have been in
fault, who can talk cheerfully with their brothers, but are ashamed
to see their father; so, likewise, he, he said, could gladly reside
with them in that island, whereas he felt a certain awe upon his
mind, which made him averse to the sight of Corinth, that was a
common mother to them both. The thing is further evident from the
reply he once made to a stranger in Corinth, who deriding him in a
rude and scornful manner about the conferences he used to have with
philosophers, whose company had been one of his pleasures while yet a
monarch, and demanding, in fine, what he was the better now for all
those wise and learned discourses of Plato, "Do you think," said he,
"I have made no profit of his philosophy, when you see me bear my
change of fortune as I do?" And when Aristoxenus the musician, and
several others, desired to know how Plato offended him, and what had
been the ground of his displeasure with him, he made answer, that, of
the many evils attaching to the condition of sovereignty, the one
greatest infelicity was that none of those who were accounted friends
would venture to speak freely, or tell the plain truth; and that by
means of such he had been deprived of Plato's kindness. At another
time, when one of those pleasant companions that are desirous to pass
for wits, in mockery to Dionysius, as if he were still the tyrant,
shook out the folds of his cloak, as he was entering into the room
where he was, to show there were no concealed weapons about him,
Dionysius, by way of retort, observed, that he would prefer he would
do so on leaving the room, as a security that he was carrying nothing
off with him. And when Philip of Macedon, at a drinking party, began
to speak in banter about the verses and tragedies which his father,
Dionysius the elder, had left behind him, and pretended to wonder how
he could get any time from his other business to compose such
elaborate and ingenious pieces, he replied, very much to the purpose,
"It was at those leisurable hours, which such as you and I, and those
we call happy men, bestow upon our cups." Plato had not the
opportunity to see Dionysius at Corinth, being already dead before he
came thither; but Diogenes of Sinope, at their first meeting in the
street there, saluted him with the ambiguous expression, "O
Dionysius, how little you deserve your present life!" Upon which
Dionysius stopped and replied, "I thank you, Diogenes, for your
condolence." "Condole with you!" replied Diogenes; "do you not
suppose that, on the contrary, I am indignant that such a slave as
you, who, if you had your due, should have been let alone to grow
old, and die in the state of tyranny, as your father did before you,
should now enjoy the ease of private persons, and be here to sport
and frolic it in our society?" So that when I compare those sad
stories of Philistus, touching the daughters of Leptines, where he
makes pitiful moan on their behalf, as fallen from all the blessings
and advantages of powerful greatness to the miseries of a humble
life, they seem to me like the lamentations of a woman who has lost
her box of ointment, her purple dresses, and her golden trinkets.
Such anecdotes will not, I conceive, be thought either foreign to my
purpose of writing Lives, or unprofitable in themselves, by such
readers as are not in too much haste, or busied and taken up with
other concerns.

But if the misfortune of Dionysius appear strange and extraordinary,
we shall have no less reason to wonder at the good fortune of
Timoleon, who, within fifty days after his landing in Sicily, both
recovered the citadel of Syracuse, and sent Dionysius an exile into
Peloponnesus. This lucky beginning so animated the Corinthians, that
they ordered him a supply of two thousand foot and two hundred horse,
who, reaching Thurii, intended to cross over thence into Sicily; but
finding the whole sea beset with Carthaginian ships, which made their
passage impracticable, they were constrained to stop there, and watch
their opportunity: which time, however, was employed in a noble
action. For the Thurians, going out to war against their Bruttian
enemies, left their city in charge with these Corinthian strangers,
who defended it as carefully as if it had been their own country, and
faithfully resigned it up again.

Hicetes, in the interim, continued still to besiege the castle of
Syracuse, and hindered all provisions from coming in by sea to
relieve the Corinthians that were in it. He had engaged also, and
dispatched towards Adranum, two unknown foreigners to assassinate
Timoleon, who at no time kept any standing guard about his person,
and was then altogether secure, diverting himself, without any
apprehension, among the citizens of the place, it being a festival in
honor of their gods. The two men that were sent, having casually
heard that Timoleon was about to sacrifice, came directly into the
temple with poniards under their cloaks, and pressing in among the
crowd, by little and little got up close to the altar; but, as they
were just looking for a sign from each other to begin the attempt, a
third person struck one of them over the head with a sword, upon
whose sudden fall, neither he that gave the blow, nor the partisan of
him that received it, kept their stations any longer; but the one,
making way with his bloody sword, put no stop to his flight, till he
gained the top of a certain lofty precipice, while the other, laying
hold of the altar, besought Timoleon to spare his life, and he would
reveal to him the whole conspiracy. His pardon being granted, he
confessed that both himself and his dead companion were sent thither
purposely to slay him. While this discovery was made, he that killed
the other conspirator had been fetched down from his sanctuary of the
rock, loudly and often protesting, as he came along, that there was
no injustice in the fact, as he had only taken righteous vengeance
for his father's blood, whom this man had murdered before in the city
of Leontini; the truth of which was attested by several there
present, who could not choose but wonder too at the strange dexterity
of fortune's operations, the facility with which she makes one event
the spring and motion to something wholly different, uniting every
scattered accident and lose particular and remote action, and
interweaving them together to serve her purposes; so that things that
in themselves seem to have no connection or interdependence
whatsoever, become in her hands, so to say, the end and the beginning
of each other. The Corinthians, satisfied as to the innocence of
this seasonable feat, honored and rewarded the author with a present
of ten pounds in their money, since he had, as it were, lent the use
of his just resentment to the tutelar genius that seemed to be
protecting Timoleon, and had not preexpended this anger, so long ago
conceived, but had reserved and deferred, under fortune's guidance,
for his preservation, the revenge of a private quarrel.

But this fortunate escape had effects and consequences beyond the
present, as it inspired the highest hopes and future expectations of
Timoleon, making people reverence and protect him as a sacred person
sent by heaven to avenge and redeem Sicily. Hicetes, having missed
his aim in this enterprise, and perceiving, also, that many went off
and sided with Timoleon, began to chide himself for his foolish
modesty, that, when so considerable a force of the Carthaginians lay
ready to be commanded by him, he had employed them hitherto by
degrees and in small numbers, introducing their reinforcements by
stealth and clandestinely, as if he had been ashamed of the action.
Therefore, now laying aside his former nicety, he calls in Mago,
their admiral, with his whole navy, who presently set sail, and
seized upon the port with a formidable fleet of at least a hundred
and fifty vessels, landing there sixty thousand foot which were all
lodged within the city of Syracuse; so that, in all men's opinion,
the time anciently talked of and long expected, wherein Sicily should
be subjugated by barbarians, was now come to its fatal period. For
in all their preceding wars and many desperate conflicts with Sicily,
the Carthaginians had never been able, before this, to take Syracuse;
whereas Hicetes now receiving them, and putting the city into their
hands, you might see it become now as it were a camp of barbarians.
By this means, the Corinthian soldiers that kept the castle found
themselves brought into great danger and hardship; as, besides that
their provision grew scarce, and they began to be in want, because
the havens were strictly guarded and blocked up, the enemy exercised
them still with skirmishes and combats about their walls, and they
were not only obliged to be continually in arms, but to divide and
prepare themselves for assaults and encounters of every kind, and to
repel every variety of the means of offense employed by a besieging

Timoleon made shift to relieve them in these straits, sending corn
from Catana by small fishing-boats and little skiffs, which commonly
gained a passage through the Carthaginian galleys in times of storm,
stealing up when the blockading ships were driven apart and dispersed
by the stress of weather; which Mago and Hicetes observing, they
agreed to fall upon Catana, from whence these supplies were brought
in to the besieged, and accordingly put off from Syracuse, taking
with them the best soldiers in their whole army. Upon this, Neon the
Corinthian, who was captain of those that kept the citadel, taking
notice that the enemies who stayed there behind were very negligent
and careless in keeping guard, made a sudden sally upon them as they
lay scattered, and, killing some and putting others to flight, he
took and possessed himself of that quarter which they call Acradina,
and was thought to be the strongest and most impregnable part of
Syracuse, a city made up and compacted as it were, of several towns
put together. Having thus stored himself with corn and money, he did
not abandon the place, nor retire again into the castle, but
fortifying the precincts of Acradina, and joining it by works to the
citadel, he undertook the defense of both. Mago and Hicetes were now
come near to Catana, when a horseman, dispatched from Syracuse,
brought them tidings that Acradina was taken; upon which they
returned, in all haste, with great disorder and confusion, having
neither been able to reduce the city they went against, nor to
preserve that they were masters of.

These successes, indeed, were such as might leave foresight and
courage a pretence still of disputing it with fortune, which
contributed most to the result. But the next following event can
scarcely be ascribed to anything but pure felicity. The Corinthian
soldiers who stayed at Thurii, partly for fear of the Carthaginian
galleys which lay in wait for them under the command of Hanno, and
partly because of tempestuous weather which had lasted for many days,
and rendered the sea dangerous, took a resolution to march by land
over the Bruttian territories, and, what with persuasion and force
together, made good their passage through those barbarians to the
city of Rhegium, the sea being still rough and raging as before. But
Hanno, not expecting the Corinthians would venture out, and supposing
it would be useless to wait there any longer, bethought himself, as
he imagined, of a most ingenious and clever stratagem apt to delude
and ensnare the enemy; in pursuance of which he commanded the seamen
to crown themselves with garlands, and, adorning his galleys with
bucklers both of the Greek and Carthaginian make, he sailed away for
Syracuse in this triumphant equipage, and using all his oars as he
passed under the castle with much shouting and laughter, cried out,
on purpose to dishearten the besieged, that he was come from
vanquishing and taking the Corinthian succors, which he fell upon at
sea as they were passing over into Sicily. While he was thus biding
and playing his tricks before Syracuse, the Corinthians, now come as
far as Rhegium, observing the coast clear, and that the wind was laid
as it were by miracle, to afford them in all appearance a quiet and
smooth passage, went immediately aboard on such little barks and
fishing-boats as were then at hand, and got over to Sicily with such
complete safety and in such an extraordinary calm, that they drew
their horses by the reins, swimming along by them as the vessels went

When they were all landed, Timoleon came to receive them, and by
their means at once obtained possession of Messena, from whence he
marched in good order to Syracuse, trusting more to his late
prosperous achievements than his present strength, as the whole army
he had then with him did not exceed the number of four thousand;
Mago, however, was troubled and fearful at the first notice of his
coming, and grew more apprehensive and jealous still upon the
following occasion. The marshes about Syracuse, that receive a great
deal of fresh water, as well from springs as from lakes and rivers
discharging themselves into the sea, breed abundance of eels, which
may be always taken there in great quantities by any that will fish
for them. The mercenary soldiers that served on both sides, were
wont to follow the sport together at their vacant hours, and upon any
cessation of arms, who being all Greeks, and having no cause of
private enmity to each other, as they would venture bravely in fight,
so in times of truce used to meet and converse amicably together.
And at this present time, while engaged about this common business of
fishing, they fell into talk together; and some expressing their
admiration of the neighboring sea, and others telling how much they
were taken with the convenience and commodiousness of the buildings
and public works, one of the Corinthian party took occasion to demand
of the others: "And is it possible that you who are Grecians born,
should be so forward to reduce a city of this greatness, and enjoying
so many rare advantages, into the state of barbarism; and lend your
assistance to plant Carthaginians, that are the worst and bloodiest
of men, so much the nearer to us? whereas you should rather wish
there were many more Sicilies to lie between them and Greece. Have
you so little sense as to believe, that they come hither with an
army, from the Pillars of Hercules and the Atlantic Sea, to hazard
themselves for the establishment of Hicetes? who, if he had had the
consideration which becomes a general, would never have thrown out
his ancestors and founders to bring in the enemies of his country in
the room of them, when he might have enjoyed all suitable honor and
command, with consent of Timoleon and the rest of Corinth." The
Greeks that were in pay with Hicetes, noising these discourses about
their camp, gave Mago some ground to suspect, as indeed he had long
sought for a pretence to be gone, that there was treachery contrived
against him; so that, although Hicetes entreated him to tarry, and
made it appear how much stronger they were than the enemy, yet,
conceiving they came far more short of Timoleon in respect of courage
and fortune, than they surpassed him in number, he presently went
aboard, and set sail for Africa, letting Sicily escape out of his
hands with dishonor to himself, and for such uncertain causes, that
no human reason could give an account of his departure.

The day after he went away, Timoleon came up before the city, in
array for a battle. But when he and his company heard of this sudden
flight, and saw the docks all empty, they could not forbear laughing
at the cowardice of Mago, and in mockery caused proclamation to be
made through the city, that a reward would be given to any one who
could bring them tidings whither the Carthaginian fleet had conveyed
itself from them. However, Hicetes resolving to fight it out alone,
and not quitting his hold of the city, but sticking close to the
quarters he was in possession of, places that were well fortified and
not easy to be attacked, Timoleon divided his forces into three
parts, and fell himself upon the side where the river Anapus ran,
which was most strong and difficult of access; and he commanded those
that were led by Isias, a Corinthian captain, to make their assault
from the post of Acradina, while Dinarchus and Demaretus, that
brought him the last supply from Corinth, were, with a third
division, to attempt the quarter called Epipolae. A considerable
impression being made from every side at once, the soldiers of
Hicetes were beaten off and put to flight; and this, -- that the city
came to be taken by storm, and fall suddenly into their hands, upon
the defeat and rout of the enemy, -- we must in all justice ascribe
to the valor of the assailants, and the wise conduct of their
general; but that not so much as a man of the Corinthians was either
slain or wounded in the action, this the good fortune of Timoleon
seems to challenge for her own work, as though, in a sort of rivalry
with his own personal exertions, she made it her aim to exceed and
obscure his actions by her favors, that those who heard him commended
for his noble deeds might rather admire the happiness, than the merit
of them. For the fame of what was done not only passed through all
Sicily, and filled Italy with wonder, but even Greece itself, after a
few days, came to ring with the greatness of his exploit; insomuch
that those of Corinth, who had as yet no certainty that their
auxiliaries were landed on the island, had tidings brought them at
the same time that they were safe and were conquerors. In so
prosperous a course did affairs run, and such was the speed and
celerity of execution with which fortune, as with a new ornament, set
off the native lustres of the performance.

Timoleon, being master of the citadel, avoided the error which Dion
had been guilty of. He spared not the place for the beauty and
sumptuousness of its fabric, and, keeping clear of those suspicions
which occasioned first the unpopularity and afterwards the fall of
Dion, made a public crier give notice, that all the Syracusans who
were willing to have a hand in the work, should bring pick-axes and
mattocks, and other instruments, and help him to demolish the
fortifications of the tyrants. When they all came up with one
accord, looking upon that order and that day as the surest foundation
of their liberty, they not only pulled down the castle, but
overturned the palaces and monuments adjoining, and whatever else
might preserve any memory of former tyrants. Having soon leveled and
cleared the place, he there presently erected courts for
administration of justice, gratifying the citizens by this means, and
building popular government on the fall and ruin of tyranny. But
since he had recovered a city destitute of inhabitants, some of
them dead in civil wars and insurrections, and others being fled to
escape tyrants, so that through solitude and want of people the great
marketplace of Syracuse was overgrown with such quantity of rank
herbage that it became a pasture for their horses, the grooms lying
along in the grass as they fed by them; while also other towns, very
few excepted, were become full of stags and wild boars, so that those
who had nothing else to do went frequently a hunting, and found game
in the suburbs and about the walls; and not one of those who had
possessed themselves of castles, or made garrisons in the country,
could be persuaded to quit their present abode, or would accept an
invitation to return back into the city, so much did they all dread
and abhor the very name of assemblies and forms of government and
public speaking, that had produced the greater part of those usurpers
who had successively assumed a dominion over them, -- 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, requesting that
they would send a colony out of Greece to repeople Syracuse. For
else the land about it would lie unimproved; 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 from Timoleon being delivered at Corinth, and the
ambassadors of Syracuse beseeching them at the same time, that they
would take upon them the care of their poor city, and once again
become the founders of it, the Corinthians were not tempted by any
feeling of cupidity to lay hold of the advantage. Nor did they seize
and appropriate the city to themselves, but going about first to the
games that are kept as sacred in Greece, and to the most numerously
attended religious assemblages, they made publication by heralds,
that the Corinthians, having destroyed the usurpation at Syracuse and
driven out the tyrant, did thereby invite the Syracusan exiles, and
any other Siceliots, to return and inhabit the city, with full
enjoyment of freedom under their own laws, the land being divided
among them in just and equal proportions. And after this, sending
messengers into Asia and the several islands where they understood
that most of the scattered fugitives were then residing, they bade
them all repair to Corinth, engaging that the Corinthians would
afford them vessels and commanders, and a safe convoy, at their own
charges, to Syracuse. Such generous proposals, being thus spread
about, gained them the just and honorable recompense of general
praise and benediction, for delivering the country from oppressors,
and saving it from barbarians, and restoring it at length to the
rightful owners of the place. These, when they were assembled at
Corinth, and found how insufficient their company was, besought the
Corinthians that they might have a supplement of other persons, as
well out of their city as the rest of Greece, to go with them as
joint-colonists; and so raising themselves to the number of ten
thousand, they sailed together to Syracuse. By this time great
multitudes, also, from Italy and Sicily, had flocked in to Timoleon,
so that, as Athanis reports, their entire body amounted now to sixty
thousand men. Among these he divided the whole territory, and sold
the houses for a thousand talents; by which method, he both left it
in the power of the old Syracusans to redeem their own, and made it a
means also for raising a stock for the community, which had been so
much impoverished of late, and was so unable to defray other
expenses, and especially those of a war, that they exposed their very
statues to sale, a regular process being observed, and sentence of
auction passed upon each of them by majority of votes, as if they had
been so many criminals taking their trial: in the course of which it
is said that while condemnation was pronounced upon all other
statues, that of the ancient usurper Gelo was exempted, out of
admiration and honor and for the sake of the victory he gained over
the Carthaginian forces at the river Himera.

Syracuse being thus happily revived, and replenished again by the
general concourse of inhabitants from all parts, Timoleon was
desirous now to rescue other cities from the like bondage, and wholly
and once for all to extirpate arbitrary government out of Sicily.
And for this purpose, marching into the territories of those that
used it, he compelled Hicetes first to renounce the Carthaginian
interest, and, demolishing the fortresses which were held by him, to
live henceforth among the Leontinians as a private person. Leptines,
also, the tyrant of Apollonia and divers other little towns, after
some resistance made, seeing the danger he was in of being taken by
force, surrendered himself; upon which Timoleon spared his life, and
sent him away to Corinth, counting it a glorious thing that the
mother city should expose to the view of other Greeks these Sicilian
tyrants, living now in an exiled and a low condition. After this he
returned to Syracuse, that he might have leisure to attend to the
establishment of the new constitution, and assist Cephalus and
Dionysius, who were sent from Corinth to make laws, in determining
the most important points of it. In the meanwhile, desirous that his
hired soldiers should not want action, but might rather enrich
themselves by some plunder from the enemy, he dispatched Dinarchus
and Demaretus with a portion of them into the part of the island
belonging to the Carthaginians, where they obliged several cities to
revolt from the barbarians, and not only lived in great abundance
themselves, but raised money from their spoil to carry on the war.

Meantime, the Carthaginians landed at the promontory of Lilybaeum,
bringing with them an army of seventy thousand men on board two
hundred galleys, besides a thousand other vessels laden with engines
of battery, chariots, corn, and other military stores, as if they did
not intend to manage the war by piecemeal and in parts as heretofore,
but to drive the Greeks altogether and at once out of all Sicily.
And indeed it was a force sufficient to overpower the Siceliots, even
though they had been at perfect union among themselves, and had never
been enfeebled by intestine quarrels. Hearing that part of their
subject territory was suffering devastation, they forthwith made
toward the Corinthians with great fury, having Asdrubal and Hamilcar
for their generals; the report of whose numbers and strength coming
suddenly to Syracuse, the citizens were so terrified, that hardly
three thousand, among so many myriads of them, had the courage to
take up arms and join Timoleon. The foreigners, serving for pay,
were not above four thousand in all, and about a thousand of these
grew fainthearted by the way, and forsook Timoleon in his march
towards the enemy, looking on him as frantic and distracted,
destitute of the sense which might have been expected from his time
of life, thus to venture out against an army of seventy thousand men,
with no more than five thousand foot and a thousand horse; and, when
he should have kept those forces to defend the city, choosing rather
to remove them eight days' journey from Syracuse, so that if they
were beaten from the field, they would have no retreat, nor any
burial if they fell upon it. Timoleon, however, reckoned it some
kind of advantage, that these had thus discovered themselves before
the battle, and, encouraging the rest, led them with all speed to the
river Crimesus, where it was told him the Carthaginians were drawn

As he was marching up an ascent, from the top of which they expected
to have a view of the army and of the strength of the enemy, there
met him by chance a train of mules loaded with parsley; which his
soldiers conceived to be an ominous occurrence or ill-boding token,
because this is the herb with which we not unfrequently adorn the
sepulchres of the dead; and there is a proverb derived from the
custom, used of one who is dangerously sick, that he has need of
nothing but parsley. So, to ease their minds, and free them from
any superstitious thoughts or forebodings of evil, Timoleon halted,
and concluded an address, suitable to the occasion, by saying, that a
garland of triumph was here luckily brought them, and had fallen into
their hands of its own accord, as an anticipation of victory: the
same with which the Corinthians crown the victors in the Isthmian
games, accounting chaplets of parsley the sacred wreath proper to
their country; parsley being at that time still the emblem of victory
at the Isthmian, as it is now at the Nemean sports; and it is not so
very long ago that the pine first began to be used in its place.

Timoleon, therefore, having thus bespoke his soldiers, took part of
the parsley, and with it made himself a chaplet first, his captains
and their companies all following the example of their leader. The
soothsayers then, observing also two eagles on the wing towards them,
one of which bore a snake struck through with her talons, and the
other, as she flew, uttered a loud cry indicating boldness and
assurance, at once showed them to the soldiers, who with one consent
fell to supplicate the gods, and call them in to their assistance.
It was now about the beginning of summer, and conclusion of the month
called Thargelion, not far from the solstice; and the river sending
up a thick mist, all the adjacent plain was at first darkened with
the fog, so that for a while they could discern nothing from the
enemy's camp; only a confused buzz and undistinguished mixture of
voices came up to the hill from the distant motions and clamors of so
vast a multitude. When the Corinthians had mounted, and stood on the
top, and had laid down their bucklers to take breath and repose
themselves, the sun coming round and drawing up the vapors from
below, the gross foggy air that was now gathered and condensed above
formed in a cloud upon the mountains; and, all the under places being
clear and open, the river Crimesus appeared to them again, and they
could descry the enemies passing over it, first with their formidable
four horse chariots of war, and then ten thousand footmen bearing
white shields, whom they guessed to be all Carthaginians, from the
splendor of their arms, and the slowness and order of their march. And
when now the troops of various other nations, flowing in behind them,
began to throng for passage in a tumultuous and unruly manner,
Timoleon, perceiving that the river gave them opportunity to single
off whatever number of their enemies they had a mind to engage at
once, and bidding his soldiers observe how their forces were divided
into two separate bodies by the intervention of the stream, some
being already over, and others still to ford it, gave Demaretus
command to fall in upon the Carthaginians with his horse, and disturb
their ranks before they should be drawn up into form of battle; and
coming down into the plain himself, forming his right and left wing
of other Sicilians, intermingling only a few strangers in each, he
placed the natives of Syracuse in the middle, with the stoutest
mercenaries he had about his own person; and, waiting a little to
observe the action of his horse, when he saw they were not only
hindered from grappling with the Carthaginians by the armed chariots
that ran to and fro before the army, but forced continually to wheel
about to escape having their ranks broken, and so to repeat their
charges anew, he took his buckler in his hand, and crying out to the
foot that they should follow him with courage and confidence, he
seemed to speak with a more than human accent, and a voice stronger
than ordinary; whether it were that he naturally raised it so high in
the vehemence and ardor of his mind to assault the enemy, or else, as
many then thought, some god or other spoke with him. When his
soldiers quickly gave an echo to it, all besought him to lead them on
without any further delay, he made a sign to the horse, that they
should draw off from the front where the chariots were, and pass
sidewards to attack their enemies in the flank; then, making his
vanguard firm by joining man to man and buckler to buckler, he caused
the trumpet to sound, and so bore in upon the Carthaginians.

They, for their part, stoutly received and sustained his first onset;
and having their bodies armed with breastplates of iron, and helmets
of brass on their heads, besides great bucklers to cover and secure
them, they could easily repel the charge of the Greek spears. But
when the business came to a decision by the sword, where mastery
depends no less upon art than strength, all on a sudden from the
mountain tops violent peals of thunder and vivid dashes of lightning
broke out; following upon which the darkness, that had been hovering
about the higher grounds and the crests of the hills, descending to
the place of battle and bringing a tempest of rain and of wind and
hail along with it, was driven upon the Greeks behind, and fell only
at their backs, but discharged itself in the very faces of the
barbarians, the rain beating on them, and the lightning dazzling them
without cessation; annoyances that in many ways distressed at any
rate the inexperienced, who had not been used to such hardships, and,
in particular, the claps of thunder, and the noise of the rain and
hail beating on their arms, kept them from hearing the commands of
their officers. Besides which, the very mud also was a great
hindrance to the Carthaginians, who were not lightly equipped, but,
as I said before, loaded with heavy armor; and then their shirts
underneath getting drenched, the foldings about the bosom filled with
water, grew unwieldy and cumbersome to them as they fought, and made
it easy for the Greeks to throw them down, and, when they were once
down, impossible for them, under that weight, to disengage themselves
and rise again with weapons in their hand. The river Crimesus, too,
swollen partly by the rain, and partly by the stoppage of its course
with the numbers that were passing through, overflowed its banks; and
the level ground by the side of it, being so situated as to have a
number of small ravines and hollows of the hill-side descending upon
it, was now filled with rivulets and currents that had no certain
channel, in which the Carthaginians stumbled and rolled about, and
found themselves in great difficulty. So that, in fine, the storm
bearing still upon them, and the Greeks having cut in pieces four
hundred men of their first ranks, the whole body of their army began
to fly. Great numbers were overtaken in the plain, and put to the
sword there; and many of them, as they were making their way back
through the river, falling foul upon others that were yet coming
over, were borne away and overwhelmed by the waters; but the major
part, attempting to get up the hills and so make their escape, were
intercepted and destroyed by the light-armed troops. It is said,
that of ten thousand who lay dead after the fight, three thousand, at
least, were Carthaginian citizens; a heavy loss and great grief to
their countrymen; those that fell being men inferior to none among
them as to birth, wealth, or reputation. Nor do their records
mention that so many native Carthaginians were ever cut off before in
any one battle; as they usually employed Africans, Spaniards, and
Numidians in their wars, so that if they chanced to be defeated, it
was still at the cost and damage of other nations.

The Greeks easily discovered of what condition and account the slain
were, by the richness of their spoils; for when they came to collect
the booty, there was little reckoning made either of brass or iron,
so abundant were better metals, and so common were silver and gold
Passing over the river, they became masters of their camp and
carriages. As for captives, a great many of them were stolen away,
and sold privately by the soldiers, but about five thousand were
brought in and delivered up for the benefit of the public; two
hundred of their chariots of war were also taken. The tent of
Timoleon then presented a most glorious and magnificent appearance,
being heaped up and hung round with every variety of spoils and
military ornaments, among which there were a thousand breastplates of
rare workmanship and beauty, and bucklers to the number of ten
thousand. The victors being but few to strip so many that were
vanquished, and having such valuable booty to occupy them, it was the
third day after the fight before they could erect and finish the
trophy of their conquest. Timoleon sent tidings of his victory to
Corinth, with the best and goodliest arms he had taken as a proof of
it; that he thus might render his country an object of emulation to
the whole world, when, of all the cities of Greece, men should there
alone behold the chief temples adorned, not with Grecian spoils, nor
offerings obtained by the bloodshed and plunder of their own
countrymen and kindred, and attended, therefore, with sad and unhappy
remembrances, but with such as had been stripped from barbarians and
enemies to their nation, with the noblest titles inscribed upon them,
titles telling of the justice as well as fortitude of the conquerors;
namely, that the people of Corinth, and Timoleon their general,
having redeemed the Greeks of Sicily from Carthaginian bondage, made
oblation of these to the gods, in grateful acknowledgment of their

Having done this, he left his hired soldiers in the enemy's country,
to drive and carry away all they could throughout the
subject-territory of Carthage, and so marched with the rest of his
army to Syracuse, where he issued an edict for banishing the thousand
mercenaries who had basely deserted him before the battle, and
obliged them to quit the city before sunset. They, sailing into
Italy, lost their lives there by the hands of the Bruttians, in spite
of a public assurance of safety previously given them; thus
receiving, from the divine power, a just reward of their own
treachery. Mamercus, however, the tyrant of Catana, and Hicetes,
after all, either envying Timoleon the glory of his exploits, or
fearing him as one that would keep no agreement, nor have any peace
with tyrants, made a league with the Carthaginians, and pressed them
much to send a new army and commander into Sicily, unless they would
be content to hazard all, and to be wholly ejected out of that
island. And in consequence of this, Gisco was dispatched with a navy
of seventy sail. He took numerous Greek mercenaries also into pay,
that being the first time they had ever been enlisted for the
Carthaginian service; but then it seems the Carthaginians began to
admire them, as the most irresistible soldiers of all mankind.
Uniting their forces in the territory of Messena, they cut off four
hundred of Timoleon's paid soldiers, and within the dependencies of
Carthage, at a place called Hierae, destroyed, by an ambuscade, the
whole body of mercenaries that served under Euthymus the Leucadian;
which accidents, however, made the good fortune of Timoleon accounted
all the more remarkable, as these 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
were constrained to wander about in Peloponnesus; when, for want of
others, Timoleon was glad to take them into service in his expedition
for Sicily, where they were successful in whatever enterprise they
attempted under his conduct. But now, when all the important dangers
were past, on his sending them out for the relief and defense of his
party in several places, they perished and were destroyed at a
distance from him, not all together, but in small parties; and the
vengeance which was destined for them, so accommodating itself to the
good fortune which guarded Timoleon as not to allow any harm or
prejudice for good men to arise from the punishment of the wicked,
the benevolence and kindness which the gods had for Timoleon was thus
as distinctly recognized in his disasters as in his successes.

What most annoyed the Syracusans was their being insulted and mocked
by the tyrants; as, for example, by Mamercus, who valued himself much
upon his gift for writing poems and tragedies, and took occasion,
when coming to present the gods with the bucklers of the hired
soldiers whom he had killed, to make a boast of his victory in an
insulting elegiac inscription:

These shields, with purple, gold, and ivory wrought,
Were won by us that but with poor ones fought.

After this, while Timoleon marched to Calauria, Hicetes made an
inroad into the borders of Syracuse, where he met with considerable
booty, and having done much mischief and havoc, returned back by
Calauria itself, in contempt of Timoleon, and the slender force he
had then with him. He, suffering Hicetes to pass forward, pursued
him with his horsemen and light infantry, which Hicetes perceiving,
crossed the river Damyrias, and then stood in a posture to receive
him; the difficulty of the passage, and the height and steepness of
the bank on each side, giving advantage enough to make him confident.
A strange contention and dispute, meantime, among the officers of
Timoleon, a little retarded the conflict; no one of them was willing
to let another pass over before him to engage the enemy; each man
claiming it as a right, to venture first and begin the onset; so that
their fording was likely to be tumultuous and without order, a mere
general struggle which should be the foremost. Timoleon, therefore,
desiring to decide the quarrel by lot, took a ring from each of the
pretenders, which he cast into his own cloak, and, after he had
shaken all together, the first he drew out had, by good fortune, the
figure of a trophy engraved as a seal upon it; at the sight of which
the young captains all shouted for joy, and, without waiting any
longer to see how chance would determine it for the rest, took every
man his way through the river with all the speed they could make, and
fell to blows with the enemies, who were not able to bear up against
the violence of their attack, but fled in haste and left their arms
behind them all alike, and a thousand dead upon the place.

Not long after, Timoleon, marching up to the city of the Leontines,
took Hicetes alive, and his son Eupolemus, and Euthymus, the
commander of his horse, who were bound and brought to him by their
own soldiers. Hicetes and the stripling 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
contemptuous language in disparagement of the Corinthians when they
first sent their forces into Sicily: it is said that he told the
Leontini in a speech, that the news did not sound terrible, nor was
any great danger to be feared because of

Corinthian women coming out of doors.

So true is it that men are usually more stung and galled by
reproachful words than hostile actions; and they bear an affront with
less patience than an injury: to do harm and mischief by deeds is
counted pardonable from enemies, as nothing less can be expected in a
state of war whereas virulent and contumelious words appear to be the
expression of needless hatred, and to proceed from an excess of

When Timoleon came back to Syracuse, the citizens brought the wives
and daughters of Hicetes and his son to a public trial, and condemned
and put them to death. This seems to be the least pleasing action of
Timoleon's life; since if he had interposed, the unhappy women would
have been spared. He would appear to have disregarded the thing, and
to have given them up to the citizens, who were eager to take
vengeance for the wrongs done to Dion, who expelled Dionysius; since
it was this very Hicetes, who took Arete the wife, and Aristomache
the sister of Dion, with a son that had not yet passed his childhood,
and threw them all together into the sea alive, as related in the
life of Dion.

After this, he moved towards Catana against Mamercus, who gave him
battle near the river Abolus, and was overthrown and put to flight,
losing above two thousand men, a considerable part of whom were the
Phoenician troops sent by Gisco to his assistance. After this
defeat, the Carthaginians sued for peace; which was granted on the
conditions that they should confine themselves to the country within
the river Lycus,@ that those of the inhabitants who wished to remove
to the Syracusan territories should be allowed to depart with their
whole families and fortunes, and, lastly, that Carthage should
renounce all engagements to the tyrants. Mamercus, now forsaken and
despairing of success, took ship for Italy with the design of
bringing in the Lucanians against Timoleon and the people of
Syracuse; but the men in his galleys turning back and landing again
and delivering up Catana to Timoleon, thus obliged him to fly for his
own safety to Messena, where Hippo was tyrant. Timoleon, however,
coming up against them, and besieging the city both by sea and land,
Hippo, fearful of the event, endeavored to slip away in a vessel;
which the people of Messena surprised as it was putting off, and
seizing on his person, and bringing all their children from school
into the theater, to witness the glorious spectacle of a tyrant
punished, they first publicly scourged and then put him to death.
Mamercus made surrender of himself to Timoleon, with the proviso,
that he should be tried at Syracuse, and Timoleon should take no part
in his accusation. Thither he was brought accordingly, and
presenting himself to plead before the people, he essayed to
pronounce an oration he had long before composed in his own defense;
but finding himself interrupted by noise and clamors, and observing
from their aspect and demeanor that the assembly was inexorable, he
threw off his upper garment, and running across the theater as hard
as he could, dashed his head against one of the stones under the
seats with intention to have killed himself; but he had not the
fortune to perish, as he designed, but was taken up alive, and
suffered the death of a robber.

Thus did Timoleon cut the nerves of tyranny, and put a period to
their wars; and, whereas, at his first entering upon Sicily, the
island was as it were become wild again, and was hateful to the very
natives on account of the evils and miseries they suffered there, he
so civilized and restored it, and rendered it so desirable to all
men, that even strangers now came by sea to inhabit those towns and
places which their own citizens had formerly forsaken and left
desolate. Agrigentum and Gela, two famous cities that had been
ruined and laid waste by the Carthaginians after the Attic war, were
then peopled again, the one by Megellus and Pheristus from Elea, the
other by Gorgus, from the island of Ceos, partly with new settlers,
partly with the old inhabitants whom they collected again from
various parts; to all of whom Timoleon not only afforded a secure and
peaceable abode after so obstinate a war, but was further so zealous
in assisting and providing for them that he was honored among them as
their founder. Similar feelings also possessed to such a degree all
the rest of the Sicilians, that there was no proposal for peace, nor
reformation of laws, nor assignation of land, nor reconstitution of
government, which they could think well of, unless he lent his aid as
a chief architect, to finish and adorn the work, and superadd some
touches from his own hand, which might render it pleasing both to God
and man.

Although Greece had in his time produced several persons of
extraordinary worth, and much renowned for their achievements, such
as Timotheus and Agesilaus and Pelopidas and (Timoleon's chief model)
Epaminondas, yet the lustre of their best actions was obscured by a
degree of violence and labor, insomuch that some of them were matter
of blame and of repentance; whereas there is not any one act of
Timoleon's, setting aside the necessity he was placed under in
reference to his brother, to which, as Timaeus observes, we may not
fitly apply that exclamation of Sophocles:

O gods! what Venus, or what grace divine,
Did here with human workmanship combine?

For as the poetry of Antimachus, and the painting of Dionysius, the
artists of Colophon, though full of force and vigor, 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; so the expeditions and acts
of Epaminondas or Agesilaus, that were full of toil and effort, when
compared with the easy and natural as well as noble and glorious
achievements of Timoleon, compel our fair and unbiased judgment to
pronounce the latter not indeed the effect of fortune, but the
success of fortunate merit. Though he himself indeed ascribed that
success to the sole favor of fortune; and both in the letters which
he wrote to his friends at Corinth, and in the speeches he made to
the people of Syracuse, he would say, that he was thankful unto God,
who, designing to save Sicily, was pleased to honor him with the name
and title of the deliverance he vouchsafed it. And having built a
chapel in his house, he there sacrificed to Good Hap, as a deity
that had favored him, and devoted the house itself to the Sacred
Genius; it being a house which the Syracusans had selected for him,
as a special reward and monument of his brave exploits, granting him
together with it the most agreeable and beautiful piece of land in
the whole country, where he kept his residence for the most part, and
enjoyed a private life with his wife and children, who came to him
from Corinth. For he returned thither no more, unwilling to be
concerned in the broils and tumults of Greece, or to expose himself
to public envy (the fatal mischief which great commanders continually
run into, from the insatiable appetite for honors and authority); but
wisely chose to spend the remainder of his days in Sicily, and there
partake of the blessings he himself had procured, the greatest of

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