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Timoleon

Civilization:Greek: Syracuse
Era: Decline
died 337 BCField of Renown:military: General
Timoleon
 Timoleon holding the ford at Crimessus.

Timoleon, was a Greek statesman, general and the liberator of Sicily. He was born in Corinth. 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, allowed Timophanes to be put to death. Public opinion approved of 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.

In 344 B.C. envoys came from Syracuse to Corinth, to appeal to the mother-city for relief from an impending invasion of Carthage, made worse because of the political feuds between the Greek leaders of Sicily. Corinth, the mother-city of Syracuse, could not refuse help, though her chief citizens declined the responsibility of attempting to establish a settled government. Timoleon 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, 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 B.C. Dionysius surrendered Ortygia on condition of being granted a safe conduct to Corinth. 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.

Hicetas again induced Carthage to send a great army of 70,000, which landed at Lilybaeum (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. 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. He became blind some time before his death, but persisted in attending the assembly and giving his opinion, which was usually accepted as a unanimous vote. 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.

—Adapted from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Key events during the life of Timoleon

Year Event
324 BC Participated in the assassination of his brother, who made himself tyrant of Corinth.
344 BC Elected to lead a fleet from Corinth to the relief of Sicily.
344 BC Victory over Hicetas, tyrant of Syracuse at the Battle of Adranum.
343 BC Dionysius II surrendered the citadel at Ortygia; Timoleon in control of all of Syracuse.
  Tears down the citadel in Syracuse, and erects a court of justice.
340 BC Defeated an enormous Carthaginian army at the Battle of Crimissus.
339 BC Expelled all tyrants from the cities of Sicily.
  Retired from public life.
337 BC Died and was buried with a heroes funeral.

 

Story LinksBook Links
Deliverer from Corinth  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Church
Man Who Saved Sicily  in  Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks  by  Gould
Timoleon  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Kaufman
Timoleon  in  Stories from Greek History  by  Lemon
Timoleon, the Favorite of Fortune  in  Historical Tales: 10—Greek  by  Morris
Two Brothers  in  Story of Greece  by  Macgregor
Timoleon  in  Plutarch's Lives  by  Weston

Image Links
Timoleon holding the ford of the Crimessus.  in Helmet and Spear Timoleon and the Eagles in Stories from Greek History Timoleon setting sail for Sicily in Plutarch's Lives


Contemporary Short Biography
Hicetas Tyrant of Leontini, and master of Syracuse
Dionysius the Younger Continued tyrannical reign in Syracuse after the death of his father; student of Plato, overthrown by Dion.