The evil implanted in man by nature spreads so imperceptibly, when the habit of wrong-doing is unchecked, he himself can set no limit to his shamelessness. — Cicero

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber




Dion and Dionysius

When Dionysius the tyrant died at last, he was succeeded by his son, a lazy, good-for-nothing young man, who was always changing his mind. Every day he had some new fancy, admired something new, or rode some new hobby. As the son's name was the same as the father's, the latter is now sometimes known as Dionysius the Elder, while the son is generally called Dionysius the Younger.

The new tyrant had a brother-in-law named Dion, a good and studious man, who received an excellent education. Like most rich young Greeks of his day, Dion had gone to Athens to finish his studies; and there he had been a pupil of Plato, the disciple of Socrates.

As Dion was modest, truthful, and eager to learn, he soon became a favorite of Plato, who took great interest in him, and spared no pains to make him a fine scholar and philosopher.

When Dion came back to Syracuse, he often spoke with great warmth of his teacher. This so excited the curiosity of Dionysius, the new tyrant, that he longed to see Plato himself. He therefore begged Dion to invite Plato to Syracuse to teach him also.

The young man was very glad to do so. He hoped, that, under the philosopher's wise teachings, Dionysius would learn to be good and industrious, and thus become a blessing instead of a curse to his people. But Plato was already an old man, and answered that he could not undertake so long a journey at his advanced age.

Dion then wrote again such imploring letters, that the philosopher finally decided to change his mind, and set sail for Syracuse. There he was received at the shore by Dionysius in person, and escorted to the palace.

For a short time the tyrant listened with great pleasure to the philosopher's teachings. Then, growing weary of virtue as of everything else, he suddenly began to reproach Dion for bringing up such a tiresome person to court.

All the courtiers had pretended to listen to Plato's teaching with the greatest interest; but they liked feasting better than philosophy, and now began to make fun of the great Athenian, and to turn him into ridicule.

They were so afraid that the virtuous Dion would again win their fickle master's ear, and induce him to do something really useful and reasonable, that they made up their minds to get rid of him.

By artful slander they soon made Dionysius believe that his brother-in-law was a traitor, and that his only wish was to take power, and become tyrant of Syracuse in his stead.

Now these accusations were not true; but Dionysius believed them, and sent Dion into exile, forbidding his wife, who loved him dearly, to go with him, and even forcing her to take another husband instead.

The courtiers wished to revenge themselves for the weary hours they had spent listening to Plato's beautiful talk, which they were too base to understand, so they now said that he had helped Dion; and they had him first put into prison, and then sold into slavery.

Happily, there were some of the philosopher's friends in town; and they, hearing of this outrage, knew no rest until they had bought his freedom, and sent him back to Athens to end his life in peace.

On his way home, Plato stopped at Olympia to attend the games. As soon as the people found out that he was there, they shouted for joy; and one and all voted him a crown just like those won by the victors in the games.

This was the highest honor the Greeks could bestow; and, although it was nothing but a wreath of olive leaves, you may be sure that the philosopher prized it more highly than if it had been of pure gold, because it was a token of the love and respect of his countrymen.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province