People - Ancient Greece: Timoleon
Ancient Greek statesman and general from Corinth,
who lived during ca. 411–337 BCE.
Timoleon in Wikipedia
Timoleon (Greek: Τιμολέων), son of Timodemus, of Corinth (ca. 411–337 BCE) was a Greek statesman and general.
As the champion of Greece against Carthage he is closely connected with the history of Sicily, especially Syracuse.
When his brother Timophanes, whose life he had saved in battle, took possession of the acropolis of Corinth and made himself master of the city, Timoleon, after an ineffectual protest, tacitly acquiesced while the friends who accompanied him put Timophanes to death. Public opinion approved his conduct as patriotic; but the curses of his mother and the indignation of some of his kinsfolk drove him into retirement for twenty years.
Because of the political problems of Syracuse and the threat from Sparta, a group of Syracusans sent an appeal for help to Corinth which reached Corinth in 344 BCE Corinth could not refuse help, though her chief citizens declined the responsibility of attempting to establish a settled government in factious and turbulent Syracuse.
Timoleon, being named by an unknown voice in the popular assembly, was chosen by a unanimous vote to undertake the mission, and set sail for Sicily with a few of the leading citizens of Corinth and a small troop of Greek mercenaries. He eluded a Carthaginian squadron and landed at Tauromenium (now Taormina), where he met with a friendly reception. At this time Hicetas, tyrant of Leontini, was master of Syracuse, with the exception of the island of Ortygia, which was occupied by Dionysius, still nominally tyrant.
Hicetas was defeated at Adranum, an inland town, and driven back to Syracuse. In 343 Dionysius surrendered Ortygia on condition of being granted a safe conduct to Corinth. Hicetas now received help from Carthage (60,000 men), but ill-success roused mutual suspicion; the Carthaginians abandoned Hicetas, who was besieged in Leontini, and who was then compelled to surrender. Timoleon was thus master of Syracuse.
He at once began the work of restoration, bringing new settlers from the mother-city and from Greece generally, and establishing a popular government on the basis of the democratic laws of Diocles. The citadel was razed to the ground, and a court of justice erected on its site. The amphi-polos, or priest of Olympian Zeus, who was annually chosen by lot out of three clans, was invested with the chief magistracy. The impress of Timoleon's reforms seems to have lasted to the days of Augustus.
Hicetas again induced Carthage to send (340–339) a great army (70,000), which landed at Lilybaeum (now Marsala). With a miscellaneous levy of about 12,000 men, most of them mercenaries, Timoleon marched westwards across the island into the neighbourhood of Selinus and won a great and decisive victory on the Crimissus. The general himself led his infantry, and the enemy's discomfiture was completed by a blinding storm of rain and hail. This victory gave the Greeks of Sicily many years of peace and safety from Carthage.
Carthage made, however, one more effort and despatched some mercenaries to prolong the conflict between Timoleon and the tyrants. But it ended in the defeat of Hicetas, who was taken prisoner and put to death. Carthage then agreed to a treaty in 338 BCE by which, in Sicily, Carthage was confined to the west of the Halycus (Platani) and undertook to give no further help to tyrants.
Timoleon then retired into private life without assuming any title or office, though he remained practically supreme, not only at Syracuse, but throughout the island. Notwithstanding the many elements of discord Sicily seems to have been during Timoleon's lifetime tranquil and contented. He became blind some time before his death, but when important issues were under discussion he was carried to the assembly to give his opinion, which was usually accepted. He was buried at the cost of the citizens of Syracuse, who erected a monument to his memory in their market-place, afterwards surrounded with porticoes, and a gymnasium called Timoleonteum.
Tyrant or Democrat?
The ancient historian Timaeus gave Timoleon an excellent write up; however, Polybios laid into Timaeus for bias in favor of Timoleon and many modern historians have sided with Polybios. Peter Green shares this skepticism but thinks it has gone too far. While he concedes that Timoleon tended to play the democrat while using the methods of a tyrant (albeit benevolent), he did make an effort to maintain the outward forms of democracy. Further, he reformed Syracuse in a democratic direction and demolished the stronghold of the island that had been so useful to tyrants in the past.
Timoleon in Wikipedia
（Τιμολέων). The son of Timodemus or Timaenetus and Demaristé. He belonged to one of the noblest families at Corinth. His early life was stained by a dreadful deed of blood. We are told that so ardent was his love of liberty that when his brother Timophanes endeavoured to make himself tyrant of their native city, Timoleon murdered him rather than allow him to destroy the liberty of the State. At the request of the Greek cities of Sicily, the Corinthians despatched Timoleon with a small force in B.C. 344 to repel the Carthaginians from that island. He obtained possession of Syracuse, and then proceeded to expel the tyrants from the other Greek cities of Sicily, but was interrupted in this undertaking by a formidable invasion of the Carthaginians, who landed at Lilybaeum, in 339, with an immense army, under the command of Hasdrubal and Hamilcar, consisting of 70,000 foot and 10,000 horse. Timoleon could only induce 12,000 men to march with him against the Carthaginians; but with this small force he gained a brilliant victory over the Carthaginians on the river Crimissus (339 B.C.). The Carthaginians were glad to conclude a treaty with Timoleon in 338, by which the river Halycus was fixed as the boundary of the Carthaginian and Greek dominions in Sicily. Subsequently he expelled almost all the tyrants from the Greek cities in Sicily, and established democracies instead. Timoleon, however, was in reality the ruler of Sicily, for all the States consulted him on every matter of importance; and the wisdom of his rule is attested by the flourishing condition of the island for several years even after his death. He died in 337. His life was written by Plutarch.
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