Historical Library/Book XIV/Chapter VII
- The war between the Rhegians and Dionysius: he prepares to make war upon the Carthaginians. Most of the cities submit to Dionysius.He returns to the siege of Motya. It is taken. Forces sent from Carthage against Dionysius. A sea-fight between the Carthaginians and the Sicilians. Syracuse besieged. The speech of Theodorus against Dionysius. A grievous plague in the Carthaginian army. A great destruction of the Carthaginian fleet in the harbour of Syracuse. The miserable condition of Amilcar in his own country. The troubles of the Carthaginians.
THE Rhegians, formerly a colony of the Chalcidonians, were now uneasy under the growing power of Dionysius; for he had enslaved the Naxians and Cataneans, who were of their own blood and nation; and the Rhegians, seeing that they themselves were in the same common danger with those already expressed, were in a great consternation lest they should all be brought under the same calamity: therefore they judged it most advisable, and highly to concern them, to make war upon him while they had an opportunity, before the tyrant grew too strong. Those that were banished from Syracuse by Dionyius joined in this war, being furnished with all things necessary for that purpose by the Rhegians: for there was a great multitude of them at that time at Rhegium, who (being pressed by the Rhegians with the necessity and advantage they were likely to reap by the war) resolved to make use of the first opportunity. To that end officers were at length chosen, and with them they sent six thousand foot, and six hundred horse, with fifty crabyes: when they were landed, they solicited the Messanian commanders to join with them, telling them it would be a most dishonourable thing if they should suffer a Grecian city, and next to them, to be utterly destroyed by a tyrant. The officers, being thus persuaded, led forth the soldiers without the order of the state. The number was four thousand foot, and four hundred horse, and with them thirty gallies. Before they had marched to the utmost borders of Messana, there was raised a great mutiny among the soldiers, by a speech made to them by Laomedon a Messanian; for he advised them not to be the aggressors upon Dionysius, who had not hitherto offered them any injury. Upon which the soldiers of Messana (because the people had not by their suffrage ordered this war) presently followed his advice, and forsaking their captains, returned home. Whereupon the Rhegians, considering themselves not able to carry on the war alone, now the forces of Messana were fallen off, returned likewise to their own city. As for Dionysius, he had (upon the first notice of the design upon him) drawn out his forces to the utmost confines of Syracuse, expecting the enemy; but hearing by his spies that they were marched back, he likewise returned with his to Syracuse.
After this, when they of Rhegium and Messana sent ambassadors to him to treat upon terms of peace (he, conceiving it much to the advantage of his affairs to prevent all other hostilities and disturbances from these cities) made peace with them. He likewise observed, that many of the Grecians ran into the Carthaginian garrisons, not only bringing along with them their goods and estates, but the laws and customs of their several cities; and therefore concluded, that as long as the peace continued with the Carthaginians, those that were yet his subjects would from time to time be sheltering themselves under his protection; to remedy which, he conceived that if he renewed the war against Carthage, all those that were fled to them, being oppressed by the Carthaginians, would return to him. And he was the more encouraged, for that he heard that in Africa a plague then raged, and swept away many of the Carthaginians. Having now, therefore, a fit opportunity to declare war against them, as he conceived, he determined to make it his chief care to prepare necessaries for so great an expedition, being to engage with the most potent nation that then had any footing in Europe; and judging (as he very well might) that it was likely to be a great war, and of long continuance. To this end he forthwith gets together all sorts of artificers, some out of the towns and cities of his own dominions, and others hired with more than ordinary wages out of Italy and Greece. For he resolved to make a vast number of all sorts of arms and weapons; likewise gallies, both of three oar on a bank, and of five, which last were never used before. For this purpose a great multitude of all sorts of workmen were brought together, to every one of whom he ordered their proper work, according to their several trades, and appointed some of the best and most substantial of the citizens to be overseers, promising great rewards for the encouragement of the diligent. He himself directed the form and fashion of every sort of weapon, because mercenary soldiers came flocking in to him out of many different countries: for he purposed that every one should use such arms (both offensive and defensive) as they were accustomed to in their own nations; for he concluded, that as it would strike a greater terror into his enemies, so his soldiers would fight much better with those arms they had most commonly used. The Syracusans did all they could to forward him in his design; so that every one strove who could most advance the work; for, not only the porches and back parts of the temples, but the public schools and walks, and galleries about the forum, and every place up and down, were full of workmen; and besides these in public places, arms were made in great quantities in every large house belonging to the citizens. The art of making engines to hurl great stones was now first known at Syracuse, for at this time the most excellent artificers were met together from all parts: for the great wages and the large promises of rewards to the perfecting of the work, made the tradesmen and artificers very intent and industrious. And besides all this, Dionysius himself came every day to oversee the workmen, speaking kindly and courteously to them; and when he saw any one more than ordinarily diligent, and quick in despatch, that man would be sure to receive some reward or honour as a mark of his favour, and sometimes, for further encouragement, he would invite such to dine or sup with him. The artificers, thus encouraged, wrought with all diligence, (striving to outvie one another), so that there were made a vast number of strange weapons and warlike engines for battery. He built likewise gallies with their boats, both of three and five oars on a bank, of which last he was the first inventor. For, when he understood the first galley of three oars was made at Corinth, he was desirous a colony from thence (as the Syracusans were) should be the first that should enlarge the number. Having, therefore, provided plenty of materials to be brought over from Italy, he sent one half of the workmen to Mount Ætna, (where in those days were abundance of fir and pitch trees); the rest he commanded to sail to Italy, and ordered them carts to convey the timber to the sea-side, and ships and seamen there to receive them, and thence without delay to transport them to Syracuse. When Dionysius had got together materials sufficient for his purpose, he forthwith set about building above two hundred gallies, and to refit a hundred and ten. Besides, he built several holds round the harbour, for the receiving of the ships, to the number of a hundred and sixty, of which many would receive two ships a-piece: he likewise repaired and covered over with new planks a hundred and fifty old and useless vessels. The great preparation struck the beholders with admiration, to see so vast a number of ships, and all belonging to them, built together in one place. For indeed the preparation was such, that if a man did cast his eyes upon the ships, and consider the great cost and expense in fitting them out, he would presently conclude that all the power and riches of Sicily were there employed; and then, to turn and look upon the army and engines, he would judge that there was no art or trade but what there had shewed the height of their skill, to the utmost of what could possibly be done in that kind. And though he had performed all these with so much cost and care, that nothing seemed to be wanting, or could be added, to make them magnificent and glorious, yet, for further state and grace to the preparation, he made a hundred and forty thousand bucklers or targets, as many swords and helmets, and caused to be forged fourteen thousand corslets, of all sorts of excellent workmanship: these he appointed and ordered to the horse, and to the colonels and captains of the foot, and to the mercenaries who were of his life-guard. He prepared, likewise, engines of battery of all fashions, and a vast number of darts. The city of Syracuse provided one half of the long ships with masters, pilots, and rowers of their own citizens; for the rest Dionysius hired foreigners. After all the ships and arms were ready and complete, he then began to call his army together: for h thought it not advisable to do it before, to the end to avoid charge and expense. About this time Astydamus the writer of tragedies began to open his school; he lived sixty years: and this year the Romans, as they were besieging the Veii, by a sally out of the city were totally routed, and shamefully put to flight. After the former year expired, Ithycles was made lord chancelor of Athens, and at Rome six military tribunes bore the consular dignity; Lucis Julius, Marcus Furius, Æmilius Marcus, Caius Cornelius, Cæsio Fabius, and Paulus Sextus. This year Dionysius the tyrant of Syracuse, when he had finished his preparation of ships and arms, (as is before related), began to muster his forces. To this end he chose out of the city companies such as he thought fittest for his purpose, and sent for such as he thought most serviceable from those towns that favoured his interest: he hired, likewise, soldiers out of Greece, and especially from the Lacedæmonians; for from them (to whom he owed the growth and increase of his power) he received as many soldiers as he chose for the completing of his army: for, designing to raise a numerous army of strangers, and to this end offering large pay, he had multitudes come in to him; and because he had determined upon a war which would be very great, he carried himself with all the complacency imaginable to the cities throughout the island, with a purpose thereby to gain their good-will and approbation. Knowing, likewise, that they of Rhegium and Messana, who bordered upon the sea, were able to bring great forces into the field, he began to fear lest they should join with the Carthaginians when they returned into the island; for he concluded that no small advantage would accrue to that side to which those two cities inclined. Being in this perplexity, he gave to the Messanians a large part of the country adjoining to them, thereby the more to oblige them to his interest. He despatched, likewise, ambassadors to Rhegium, to desire that they would contract affinity with him, and to that end bestow upon him a virgin of their own city to be his wife; in grateful remembrance of which he would give them a large portion of land next adjoining to their territories, and that he would endeavour and increase the wealth and prosperity of the city to the utmost of his power. For, after he had lost his former wife, the daughter of Hermocrates, who was killed in the late defection of the horsemen, he desired issue by another, supposing he should firmly settle himself in his sovereignty by the kindness and obliging demeanor of his children towards the people. But a council being called at Rhegium to consider of the proposal, after great banding on both sides, it was resolved not to enter into any such affinity.
Dionysius being disappointed in this project, sends ambassadors to Locris upon the same embassy; they embraced the motion: upon which he marries Doris, the daughter of Xenetuus, at that time the most eminent citizen of that place. A few days before the marriage, he sends to Locris a galley of five oars on a bank (a piece of new and rare workmanship), adorned with gold and silver flags and streamers, to convey her over, and receives the lady upon her landing at Syracuse into the castle. He married, likewise, a noble lady of Syracuse, called Aristomache, whom he brought to his palace in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Upon his celebrating this double marriage at one and the same time, he often feasted both the soldiers and most of the citizens. For now he laid aside his cruelty as a tyrant, and, minding the distribution of justice, carried himself more courteously and favourably towards his subjects, forbearing his former bloody slaughters and proscriptions.
Some few days after his marriage he called a senate, and there stirred up the people of Syracuse to a war against the Carthaginians, urging, that they were the most implacable enemies of the Grecians in the world, and especially, were continually plotting and striving how to ruin the Sicilians. The reason, saith he, that they are now at present quiet is, because the plague rages so violently amongst them, and hath swept away great numbers of the Africans; but you will presently see that, as soon as they are free, and have recovered their strength, thy will invade Sicily with all their power, which island they have for a long time most greedily gaped after. Therefore, said he, it is much safer and better to fall upon them now they are weak, than to stay till they have recovered themselves. He added, moreover, that it would be a most unjust and dishonourable thing to suffer barbarians to enslave the cities, who, the more they coveted their freedom, and the fonder they were of their liberties, would be certainly more ready to engage in the common cause with their countrymen.
Having debated the matter in a long discourse, he easily gained upon the Syracusans for their consent, for they were as desirous of the was as Dionysius himself; and especially, they hated the Carthaginians, because by their means they had been brought under the power of the tyrant: and then they hoped, that out of fear of the enemy abroad, and plots by them that had been oppressed at home, Dionysius would be more moderate than he had been in former times. After that which weighed more than all was, that they hoped, if they were conquerors in this war, (and fortune favoured them), they should recover their antient liberties.
When the assembly was dissolved, he granted license to the people of Syracuse to seize upon all the goods and estates of the Carthaginians; for there were many of them in Syracuse that were very rich, and many merchants had ships laden with rich goods and merchandize then lying in the harbour. The Syracusans, therefore, on a sudden, flew upon their prey. Other cities, likewise, in Sicily, drove out the Carthaginians that inhabited amongst them, and took and carried away all their estates: for, though they all hated the tyranny of Dionysius, yet it was a delight to them to join in the war against the Carthaginians, by reason of the barbarous and beastly cruelty of the men. And therefore those Grecians that inhabited the cities within the power and jurisdiction of the Carthaginians, when they saw that now open war was declared against them by the Dionysius, gave instances, likewise, of their hatred against the Africans; for they not only seized upon all their estates, but likewise their persons; and executed all manner of cruelty and disgraces upon the bodies of these miserable wretches, in memory and retribution of those they had themselves before suffered when their cities were destroyed by them. And they went on and continued their sharp revenge upon them, to the end they might learn for the future, by this example of retaliation, not to execute such barbarous cruelties upon them they should afterwards subdue: for hereby they would be taught, (having learned by experience), that in the events of war, and common turns of fortune, the party subdued must expect to suffer that which they themselves before executed upon those they had conquered.
Dionysius having now prepared all things necessary for the war, determined to send messages to Carthage to denounce war against them, in the name of the people of Syracuse, unless they restored all the Greek cities they had subdued to their ancient laws and liberties. Thus were the thoughts of Dionysius at this time employed. With this year Ctesias ends his history of the Persians, brought down from Ninus and Semiramis. At this time flourished the famous poets of Dithyrambic verse, Philoxenus, Cythereus, Timotheus, Philesius, Telestes of Selinus, and Blyeidus, an excellent limner and musician.
Upon the expiration of the former year Lysias entered upon the chief magistracy of Athens, and six military tribunes were vested with the consular dignity at Rome, viz. Publius Mellius, Marius Spurius, Furius Lucius, and three others. At that time the Syracusan tyrant (being furnished with all things necessary for the war, according to his heart’s desire) sends a herald with a letter to the senate at Carthage, in which was written—That the people of Syracuse had decreed to make war upon the Carthaginians, unless they quitted all the Grecian cities in Sicily. The herald, according to order, sails over into Africa, and delivers the letter to the senate, which being read first in the house, and then to the people, it occasioned no small disturbance and perplexity to the Carthaginians, through fear of the war coming so suddenly upon them, for the plague had destroyed an infinite number of people, and they were altogether unprovided of every thing necessary. Therefore they had now nothing to do but to observe how far the designs of the Syracusans would proceed, and whither they would tend; and in the mean time to send some of the senate, with a considerable sum of money, to raise soldiers out of Europe.
Dionysius now marches out of Syracuse towards Eryx, with Syracusans, mercenaries, and confederate auxiliaries. Not far from this hill stood the city Motya, a colony of Carthage, which was a strong castle and inlet into Sicily: by reducing of this they hoped they should gain no small advantage, and prevent the enemy. To this end he stirred up the people every where to arms, and auxiliaries from all the Greek cities came in to him all along in his march: for they were eager and hot for the war, both because they hated the slavery they suffered under the Carthaginians, and were likewise urged forward with the ardent desire and hopes they had at length to recover their liberties. First, the Camarinians joined him, then the Gelians and Agrigentines; then he sent to them of Himera, who inhabited farther off in another part of Sicily. With these and the Selinuntines, who joined with him in his march, he came to Motya: his army consisted of four score thousand foot, and above three thousand horse; in his fleet he had little less than two hundred long gallies, or men of war; and, to attend these, there were at least five hundred ships of burden, full of warlike engines, and all manner of provision.
When they of Eryx saw the wonderful preparation that was made, and being terrified with the greatness of the army, and withal hating the Carthaginians, they sided with Dionysius. But they of Motya, in expectation of aid and relief from Carthage, were not affrighted at the greatness of Dionysius’s army, but were resolved to abide a siege; for they knew very well that the Syracusans would besiege them in the first place, because they were so wholly devoted to the interest of Carthage. This city is situated in an island about half a league from the shore of Sicily, large and beautifully built, and the inhabitants very rich. A strait and narrow way had been made by art from the island to the shore, which they of Motya at that time ruined, to prevent so ready an access for the enemy. Dionysius, after he had taken a view of the situation of the city with his architects, began to fill up the place between the island and the shore with rubbish, and brought his gallies into the mouth of the harbour, and lay at anchor with his ships of burthen near to the shore. This done, he leaves Leptinus, the admiral of his fleet, to carry on the siege, and he himself, with the land army, sets upon the cities that were confederated with the Carthaginians.
All the cities of Sicily, terrified with the greatness of his army, presently submit to him, except only five, viz. Ancyræ, Solœis, Egesta, Panormus, and Entella: upon which he spoils and wastes the territories of the Selinuntines, Panormians, and Ancyreans, and cuts down all their trees, but besieges the city of the Egestines and Entellans, and by fierce and continual assaults uses his utmost endeavour to take them by storm. And thus now stood the affairs of Dionysius.
In the meantime, Himilco, the Carthaginian general, was busy in raising men from all parts, and making other preparations, but forthwith sends away the admiral, with ten gallies, and a command secretly to weigh anchor, and make straight for Syracuse, and in the night to destroy the ships that he should then find in the harbour. His project was, by this means, to divide the enemy’s forces, constraining Dionysius to send away part of his fleet to defend Syracuse. The admiral without delay observes his orders, and, entering the harbour of Syracuse in the night, privately (not discerned of any) breaks in pieces, sinks, and destroys almost all the ships that were then in the port, and sails back towards Carthage.
Dionysius having wasted and spoiled the fields of all them that were under the protection of the Carthaginians, and driven the enemy every where within their walls, returns with his whole army to Motya, supposing that when he had reduced this, the rest would all presently surrender: and now, setting more hands at work, he speedily fills up the channel with heaps of stones and rubbish, and by that means makes his approaches with his batteries nearer to the town.
About this very time, Himilco, the Carthaginian general, hearing that Dionysius had brought his ships into the harbour, forthwith manned a hundred of his best gallies, supposing that by a sudden and unexpected attack he should easily possess himself of the fleet as they lay in the harbour, (none being out to sea to obstruct his design) which, if it succeeded, he should raise the siege at Motya, and carry the war to Syracuse.
To this end, he departs from Carthage with a hundred sail, and arrived in the night upon the coasts of Selinus, and so, sailing round the promontory of Lilybæum, about break of day reaches Motya, where, surprising the enemy, he breaks some of the ships to pieces, and burns others, Dionysius not being able then to afford any assistance. Then he enters into the port, and so orders and places his ships as if he designed to set upon the fleet as they lay. Upon this, Dionysius commands his army to march down to the mouth of the harbour: but seeing that the enemy had possessed themselves of the passage, he durstnot bring his ships out of the port; for he knew that the mouth being very narrow and strait, a few ships were able to fight many above their number, and to advantage. And therefore, having many soldiers, he easily drew the ships over the land into the sea, at a farther distance from the harbour, and so preserved them.
In the mean tome Himilco pressing upon those gallies that lay foremost, and next to him, was by a multitude of darts repulsed; for many darters and slingers were placed upon the decks. The Syracusans, likewise, from land killed great numbers of the enemy, by their sharp arrows, shot out of their engines of battery. And in truth these sort of darts struck great terror into the enemy, being the first time that they were used and found out. When the Carthaginian saw he could not accomplish his design, he drew off, and sailed back for Africa, judging it in no wise prudent to engage in a sea-fight with an enemy double his number.
When Dionysius, by the help of many workmen, had perfected the bank or rampart, he applied all sorts of engines of battery to the walls, battering the towers with the rams, and driving the defendants from the bulwarks with the shot from the engines. He approached likewise to the walls with six-floored towers, which moved upon wheels, and were as high as any house. However, the citizens of Motya, although they were now in imminent danger, and destitute of all aid from their confederates, yet feared not all the force and power of Dionysius; but, bravely opposing the assailants, they first placed soldiers clothed in coats of mail upon the masts of their ships, while hoisting up their main-yards, threw burning firebrands, and sticks dipped in pitch, down upon the engines, which set them presently on fire; upon which the Sicilians ran in, and having quenched the flame, so plied their work, that with the frequent and repeated batterings by the rams, a great part of the wall fell down. Upon which both sides rushing into the breach with great fury, there was a sharp engagement: for the Sicilians thinking the town now had been their own, endured any thing, from the insatiable desire they had to revenge themselves upon the Carthaginians, for the many injuries they had suffered by them. On the other hand the besieged, to avoid the misery of bondage and slavery, and seeing no hopes to escape, either by sea or land, resolved valiantly to die. At length, doubtful of defending the walls any longer, they stopped up all the sally ports, and betook themselves to the holds and buildings at the foot of the walls, which were perfectly built as another strong wall. From hence the soldiers of Dionysius were put harder to it than they were before; for when they had got within the walls, (thronging in one upon another), and thought they had now gained the town, they were presently most miserably galled by them that were on the tops and roofs of these buildings. However, with all the speed they could, by the help of the wooden towers, they advanced their scaling-ladders to the houses that were next to them; and now they fought hand to hand from the towers and the tops of the houses, which equaled one another in height: and here the Motyans stood to it, and fought with undaunted resolution, having their wives and children in their eyes, and possessed with the sense of the imminent danger of the ruin and destruction both of them and theirs: for some, moved with the earnest prayers of their poor parents then present, entreating them not to suffer them to be made a scoff and scorn to their enemies, renewed their courage, and without any regard to their lives rushed into the midst of the assailants: others hearing the cries and complaints of their wives and children, made the more haste rather to die valiantly, than to see the captivity and slavery of their dearest relations. There was no way left to escape or fly out of the city, for they were hemmed in by the sea, which was commanded by their enemies. The cruelty of the Grecians, which they had already executed upon their prisoners, and in all likelihood would execute upon them, was that which chiefly terrified the Carthaginians, and made them desparate. And therefore nothing remained but either to conquer or die. This obstinacy of the besieged occasioned great toil and hardship to the Sicilians; for they were lamentably hurled off the scaffolds which they had made; and besides the narrowness of the place, (by which they were greatly prejudiced) they fought with men that were desperate and prodigal of their lives.
Thus therefore being engaged, some giving and receiving wounds fell on the one hand, others repulsed by the Motyans, were thrown down headlong from the scaffolds and house tops, and so miserably perished on the other. At length the assault having continued in this manner several whole days together, and every evening Dionysius by a trumpet sounding a retreat to his men, the Motyans were inured now to this way of fighting: after, therefore, both sides were drawn off, Dionysius sent forth Archylus the Thurian, with some of the best regiments, who on a sudden, in the dead of the night, by scaling-ladders, got over the shattered houses, and having possessed himself of a convenient pass, presently the rest (which were sent to his assistance by Dionysius) came in to him. But when the Motyans perceived it, with great courage and resolution they set upon them to beat them back, and though they had not timed it right, yet their valour was not in the least impaired: so that there was now begun a fierce encounter; upon which (many more likewise mounting over) the Sicilians with much ado, overpowering them by their multitude, at length drove them from the post; and presently, by the mould and bank that was raised, Dionysius's whole army broke into the city; and now every place was strewed with dead bodies. For the Sicilians, resolving to revenge themselves upon the Carthaginians for their former cruelties, without any regard either to age or sex, slew all before them, putting man, woman, and child to the sword. But Dionysius having a mind to sell all the citizens for slaves, thereby to raise money, commanded the soldiers to forbear killing the prisoners; but when he saw that none regarded him, but that the Sicilians raged like wild beasts, he ordered a crier by public proclamation to declare—That he would have the Motyans to fly for refuge to the Grecian temples. Upon which the common soldiers stopped their hands, but forthwith began plundering and spoiling all through the city, and carried away abundance of silver and gold, rich garments, and all sorts of other wealth and treasure. For Dionysius, for the encouragement of his soldiers for the time to come, had given them the plunder of the city.
After all was over, he rewarded Archylus, who first mounted the wall, with a hundred minas, and all the rest every one according to his merit. As many of the Motyans as were left alive he sold for slaves: but Daimenes, and some other Greeks who joined with the Carthaginians, and were taken prisoners, he commanded to be crucified. After this he put a garrison into Motya, and made Bito the Syracusan governor; the greater part of the garrison were Sicilians. Then he ordered Leptinus the admiral, with a hundred and twenty sail, to watch the Carthaginians at sea; and likewise to make incursions (as he had before designed) upon Egesta and Entella. He himself returned with the army to Syracuse, summer now drawing near to an end. At this time Sophocles, the son of Sophocles, began to write tragedies at Athens, and came off twelve times a conqueror.
When this year was ended, Phormio entered on the chief magistracy at Athens; and at Rome six military tribunes executed the consular authority; Cneius Genusius, Lucius Atillus, Marcus Pomponius, Caius Duilius, Marcus Veturius, and Valerius Publius. At this time was celebrated the ninety-sixth olympiad, in which Eupolis of Elis was victor.
In the time of their governments, Dionysius, lord of Syracuse, marched from thence with his army, and invaded the territories of the Carthaginians. When he was wasting and spoiling the country, the Halicyans, out of fear of him, sent ambassadors to his camp, and became confederates. But they of Egesta made a sudden and unexpected sally upon the guards of the besiegers, and burnt their tents, which caused a great consternation and tumult through the camp. For the flames catching and running along at a great distance, were not easily quenched, so that some of the soldiers, in quenching the fire, were destroyed, and many horses were burnt, and the tents together: but Dionysius went on spoiling and wasting the country without any opposition.
In the mean time Leptinus the admiral, who lay then with the fleet at Motya, was very intent in observing the enemy at sea. And the Carthaginians having certain intelligence of the strength of Dionysius, resolved to exceed him in all warlike provision and preparation whatsoever. To which end (according to their laws) they mde Himilco their king, and raised forces out of all parts of Africa and Spain, of which some were their own confederates, and other mercenaries; at length they got together an army of above three hundred thousand foot, and four thousand horse, besides chariots to the number of four hundred. They had likewise a fleet to the number of three hundred long gallies, for men of war, and six hundred ships of burden, (as Ephorus relates), to transport all manner of provisions, engines of battery, and all other necessaries for the war. But Timæus affirms, that not above a hundred thousand were transported from Africa into Sicily, with which three thousand of the Sicilians joined when they came over. Himilco delivered commissions sealed up to every one of the officers, with a command that they should not open them till they were out at sea, and then to execute their orders. He did this that the spies which might be amongst them, might not be able to inform Dionysius of the design of the fleet. The orders were—That they should make straight to Panormus. Upon this they all set sail with a fair wind: the transport-ships making directly into the open sea, but the gallies sailed along the coast of Africa. When the transport-ships and ships of burden with a fresh gale came within sight of Sicily, Dionysius sent out Leptinus with thirty sail against them, with orders to sink and destroy as many as he could, who forthwith made up to them, and fought those he first met with, and sunk several with all the men in them. The rest, (though they were heavily laden), by the help of the wind fortunately veering about, easily escaped; but about fifty were sunk downright, in which were lost five thousand soldiers, and two hundred chariots. In the mean time Himilco arrived at Panoramus, and landing his men marched directly against the enemy, commanding the fleet to sail along upon the coast near to him. In his march he entered Eryx by treachery, and thence hastened with all speed to Motya: and because Dionysius was then busy in besieging Egesta, Himilco had the opportunity to take Motya by storm. Although the Sicilians were very earnest and desirous to fight the enemy, yet Dionysius judged it more advisable for him to draw off to some other place, because he was both far off from his confederates, and his provisions too began to grow very low. Determining therefore to be gone, he advised the Sicilians for the present to quit their cities, and join themselves to the army, promising to plant them in a richer, and in no less a country, than their own; and telling them that when the war was ended, as many as would might return to their former habitations: upon this, some few of them embraced the offer, lest, if they refused, they should have been plundered by the soldiers: the rest deserted, together with the Halicyans, who sent ambassadors to the Carthaginians, and renewed their league with them. Dionysius therefore made with all speed to Syracuse, spoiling and wasting the country all along as he marched. But Himilco seeing all things succeed according to his heart's desire, marched with his army against Messana, earnest to possess himself of that city, by reason of its fit and convenient situation; for the haven there was very commodious, capable to receive his whole fleet, which consisted of about six hundred sail; and by that means having the command of the sea in those parts, he judged he should be able to intercept all the shipping that should be sent both from Italy and Peloponnesus, to aid them of Syracuse. While he was musing and considering of these things, he made peace with them of Himera, and the inhabitants of Cephaledion. And taking in the city of Lipara, he imposed a mulct of thirty talents upon the islanders. Then he marched straight away with his forces for Messana, (his fleet sailing near at hand over against him), and in a short time encamped at Pelorus, not above a hundred stages from thence. When they of the city heard of the approach of the enemy, they began to disagree about the concerns of the war. For some of them understanding the great strength of the Carthaginian army, and seeing how they were deserted by their confederates, and that they wanted their horse, which were then at Syracuse, were of opinion that the city could not be defended. Besides, to their further discouragement, their walls were down in many places, and they had now no time to make the necessary preparations for their defence. Therefore they sent away their wives and children, and all their choicest goods, and the richest of their treasures to the neighbouring cities. Others there were who remembered the old prophecy, whereby it was foretold by the oracle—That the Carthaginians should be carriers of water in that city: which was commonly interpreted in that sense as might portend most advantage to themselves, as if the Carthaginians should be slaves in Messana. From hence they were very confident, and by this means greatly encouraged others, so that they resolved to undergo the utmost extremity in defence of their common liberty. They presently sent out, therefore, a select number of their briskest young men to Pelorus, to prevent the enemy's inroads into the country, who did according to order: upon which Himilco, seeing the Messanians dispersed and scattered in order to oppose his descent, he commanded two hundred ships to make towards the city; for he hoped (as he might easily conjecture) that the whole garrison of Messana would be so earnest in opposing his breaking into their borders, that the city would be left unguarded, so that it would be easy for his fleet to enter; and at that time the north wind blew fresh, by which means the ships were carried with a full gale strait into the harbour; and though the guard sent to Pelorus hastened back with all speed, yet the enemy's fleet was in before they returned. And now the Carthaginian army, coming in on every side, speedily battered down the walls, entered, and took the city Messana. As many of the Messanians as engaged with the enemy died valiantly upon the spot; the rest fled to the next cities: many of the common people fled to the mountains near at hand, and were dispersed and scattered into several garrisons in the country: some were taken by the enemy, others that were got into narrow creeks about the harbour, flung themselves into the sea, thinking they should be able to swim over to land on the other side: but of two hundred scarcely fifty recovered the shore of Italy. Afterwards Himilco entered the Messana with his whole army; and the first thing he set upon, was the besieging the castles and forts near to the city, but being very strong, and bravely defended by them that had fled thither, when he saw he could not gain them by force, he returned to the city; and having refreshed and recruited his army, resolved to march against Syracuse.
The Sicilians bearing an inveterate hatred to Dionysius, having now a fair opportunity, all of them (except the Asserini) deserted to the Carthaginians. Dionysius, therefore, to the end he might be supplied with men, sets free all the slaves and servants of the Syracusans, and with them sufficiently manned threescore gallies: he was furnished likewise with a thousand mercenaries from the Lacedæmonians: passing likewise from place to place through the country, he fortified all the castles and strong holds, and furnished them with provisions. But his greatest care was to fortify the castles of the Leontines, and to that end laid up stores and magazines there, brought in from all parts. He likewise persuaded the Campanians, who at that time inhabited Catana, to remove to the city of Enna, because it was a place of great strength.
After things were thus settled, Dionysius led forth his army a hundred and sixty stages from Syracuse, and encamped near to a place called Taurus. He then had with him thirty thousand men, and something above three thousand horse: his navy consisted of a hundred and fourscore ships, of which there were but few that had three oars on a bank. In the mean time Himilco demolished Messana, and commanded his soldiers to pull down the houses to the ground, so as not one stick should be left standing, or one stone upon another; which was effectually executed, by burning some, and pulling down others; for by so many hands the business was done in a trice; and such was the ruin and desolation of the city, that the place which was so lately full of inhabitants, could now scarce be known where it stood. For Himilco, considering how remote it was from the confederate cities, and yet the best port and situation in all Sicily, judged it absolutely necessary either to ruin it as he had done, or at least so far to destroy it, as that it could not be repaired for a long time. And thus Himilco, having sufficiently discovered his hatred to the Grecians, commanded Mago the admiral to sail with the whole fleet to the promontory of Taurus. Here the Sicilians inhabited in great numbers, but without any head or certain commander. Dionysius had heretofore given the country of the Naxians to these Sicilians; but they, induced by the promises of Himilco, then dwelt upon the hill, (which was naturally fortified), and there at that time they were, and so continued after the war, in a city strongly walled, called Taurominium, from its situation upon Taurus. Himilco himself by swift marches came with his army to the before mentioned place of Naxia, Mago sailing all along the coast: but because mount Ætna had a little before vomited out fire as far as to the shore, the army at land could not march so as to have the fleet near at hand to attend them. For the passages by the sea-shore were so spoiled and choked up by the rivers and streams of fire from Ætna, that the army was forced to take a compass, and march round the mountain. Therefore Himilco commanded Mago to sail towards Catana, and he himself with the army hastened through the heart of the country, to join again with the fleet at that city. For he was afraid lest, when the forces were divided and far asunder, the Sicilians should set upon Mago by sea, which happened accordingly. For Dionysius having intelligence that Mago sailed very slowly, and that the land army was engaged in a long and difficult march, hastened with all speed to Catana, that he might fight Mago by sea before Himilco's army came up. For he hoped that being upon the shore near at hand with his land forces, it would much encourage his own, and discourage the enemy: and that which was the most considerable was—That if his fleet were worsted, both ships and men had a place ready to retreat to for their safety. Things thus ordered, he sent forth Leptinus with the whole fleet against the enemy, commanding him to engage in close order, and not to break his line upon any account, unless he were over-pressed with multitudes. There were in Mago's fleet ships of burden and gallies with brazen beaks, to the number of five hundred. The Carthaginians, as soon as they saw the coasts full of ships, and the Grecian navy making out strait upon them, were greatly amazed, and began to tack about and make into the shore: but presently recollecting themselves, they considered the insuperable hazard they should run themselves into, if they should fight both with the soldiers at land, and them in the ships at one time, therefore they resolved to try it out at sea; and so putting themselves into a line of battle, waited to receive the enemy. Leptinus eagerly forcing on with thirty of the best gallies in the van, with more valour than prudence, began the fight; and presently falling in upon the first squadron, sunk several of their ships: but when Mago with his fleet all joined together, they surrounded the thirty sail, the first exceeding in number, and the other in valour. And now was begun a sharp engagement, which looked like a fight upon land, the ships grappling close one to another, for there was no distance left for them to strike with their beaks, but they fought hand to hand with their forecastles close in front together; some, while they were attempting to board their adversary, were hurled overboard; others effecting what they designed, fought valiantly about in the midst of their enemy's ships. At length Leptinus, overpowered by numbers, was forced to hoist up sail and fly; the rest of the fleet coming on upon the enemy, who were in disorder, were easily routed by the Carthaginians, for the flight of the admiral encouraged them, and greatly discouraged and distracted the Sicilians. The fight thus ended, the Carthaginians made a very hot pursuit, and sunk and destroyed about a hundred vessels; and they that were in the transport ships that lay along the shore, killed the seamen as they saw them swimming to get to the forces that were upon the land; so that many being killed near the land, the shore was full of carcasses and wrecks: the Dionysians being not able in the least to help them. Many were killed on the side of the Carthaginians; but there were above a hundred gallies of the Sicilians sunk and taken, and more than twenty thousand men killed. After the fight, the Carthaginian navy anchored at Catana, whither they brought along with them the ships they had taken, and drawing them up to the shore, refitted them, that the eyes as well as the ears of the Carthaginians might be entertained with the greatness of their victory. Upon this misfortune the Sicilians, judging that by returning to Syracuse they should suffer much, and be brought into great straits by being suddenly besieged, persuaded Dionysius rather to fight Himilco, alleging—That by an unexpected onset, the barbarians would be terrified, and by that means they might in great probability repair their late overthrow. Dionysius inclining to this advice, and preparing to march against the enemy, some of his friends told him he ran a great hazard, and had reason to fear lest Himilco would invade Syracuse with his whole fleet, and so he should lose the city. Upon this he altered his resolution, knowing that Messana was lately lost by such an oversight; thereupon he hastened to Syracuse, not thinking it safe for that place to be without a strong garrison. Many of the Sicilians upon this were much displeased, and therefore some returned to their own habitations, and others dispersed themselves into several castles and forts near at hand. Himilco in two days march came to Catana, and caused the ships that were there to be drawn up into the harbour, by reason of the present wind and storm: here he staid some days, and refreshed his army, and from thence sent ambassadors to the Campanians at Enna, to court them to a defection from Dionysius, promising to bestow on them large possessions, and that they should be equal sharers in the spoils of war. He likewise acquainted them, that the Campanians of Entella had sided with the Carthaginians, and had supplied them with aids against the Sicilians. In sum he told them that the Grecians bore an inveterate hatred to all other nations whatsoever. But the Campanians having given hostages to Dionysius, and sent the best of their soldiers to Syracuse, were forced to stand to the league they had made with him, though they had a desire rather to fall to the other side.
After these misfortunes, Dionysius being now afraid of the power of the Carthaginians, sends Polyxenus, his father-in-law, ambassador to the Grecians in Italy, Lacedæmon, and Corinth, to desire their assistance, and that they would not stand by, and see the Greek cities in Sicily utterly destroyed: he sent likewise several paymasters into Peloponnesus with great sums of money, to raise what men they could, not sparing any cost.
But Himilco now enters with his navy, richly adorned with the spoils of his enemies, into the great haven of Syracuse. This filled the citizens with terror and amazement; for a navy of two hundred and eighty sail of men of war, in excellent order, entered the port: and after them came in above a thousand transport ships, wherein were about five hundred soldiers: so that the ships were near two thousand sail; insomuch as the whole haven (though it were large) was so filled with shipping, that it was almost covered over. When the navy had cast anchor in the harbour, consisting (as some report) of three hundred thousand foot, and three thousand horse, besides two hundred long ships. Himilco the general pitched his tent in the temple of Jupiter; the rest of the army encamped round him, about twelve stages distant from the city.
A while after, Himilco draws out his whole army in battalia under the walls of Syracuse, daring the Syracusans to battle; and at the same time ordered a hundred of his best ships to enter into all the rest of the harbours, the more to terrify the Syracusans, and to convince them that the Carthaginians were masters at sea; but when he saw none durst come out against him, he marched back to the camp.
After this, he most shamefully, for the space of thirty days, wasted and spoiled all the country round about, to the end to gratify his soldiers on the one hand, and to discourage his enemies on the other. He won also the suburbs of the Acradina, and plundered the temples of Ceres and Proserpina. But he paid for his sacrilege within a short time after; for his fortune began to change, and things to go worse and worse with him every day. And whenever Dionysius took courage and skirmished with the enemy, the Syracusans came off conquerors. Such terror sometimes seized the Carthaginians in their camp, that in the night they would run with great terror and confusion to their arms, as if an enemy had broken in upon them. Besides, a disease at length seized upon them, which was the cause of all the mischiefs which afterwards overtook them, of which we shall speak hereafter, that we may observe due course and order of time in the relation. Himilco, now eager to block up the city, demolishes almost all the sepulchres, among which were the monuments of Gelon and his wife Demareta, of rich and excellent workmanship. He raised likewise three forts near the sea, one at Plemmyrium, another about the middle of the port, and the third near the temple of Jupiter. In these he laid up stores of meat and drink, and all other necessaries, believing the siege would continue long. He sent away likewise the transport ships to Sardinia and Africa, to bring from thence corn and all other provisions. About this time Polyxenus, Dionysius's father-in-law, (being returned from Italy and Peloponnesus), brought with him thirty gallies (men of war) from the confederates, under the command of Pharacides the Lacedæmonian. After this, Dionysius and Leptinus made out to sea with a few gallies, to endeavour to procure some provisions for the town; and while they were cruising about, the Syracusans from the city espied a ship laden with provisions, coming up to Himilco's army; upon which they made out with five sail upon it, and took it, and brought it into the town. As they were sailing away with their prize, forty sail of the Carthaginians pursued them; upon which the whole Syracusan fleet presently hoisted up sail, and engaged; took the admiral, and sunk and destroyed twenty ships more: the rest they put to flight, and pursued the Carthaginians to their main fleet, and dared them to battle; but they, amazed with this sudden disaster, stirred not. Then the Syracusans fastened the gallies they had taken, to the poops of their own ships, and brought them into the city. Being now puffed up with this good success, they proudly vaunted—That Dionysius was often overcome by the Carthaginians; but that now, that they had not him with them, they triumphed, and returned conquerors. And in their cabals here and there they would frequently discourse, and ask each other why they should suffer themselves to be made slaves by Dionysius, especially when they had now so fair an opportunity to depose him? For till of late, they said, they were disarmed, but now, by occasion of the present war, they had again got arms into their hands.
While these things were thus whispered up and down, Dionysius lands at the port, and presently after calls an assembly, and in a harangue highly praises the Syracusans, wishing them, that as they had done, so they would still continue to shew their valour and courage for the time to come, promising them, that in a short time he would put an end to the war. When the assembly was ready to break up, Theodorus a Syracusan, a man of great authority among the nobility, and one that had done remarkable service for his country, stood up, and boldly made this speech concerning their liberties—
- ALTHOUGH Dionysius has interlaced his discourse with many lies, yet, what he said in the close o his harangue—That he would make a speedy dispatch of the war, he may truly perform, if he himself (who has always been beaten) be not the general, but forthwith restore us to our own laws and liberties: for there are none of us that can freely and cheerfully venture our lives in the field, when there is not a pin to choose whether we be conquered by the Carthaginians, or, being conquerors, become slaves at home to Dionysius: for, whilst conquerors or conquered, we are sure either to serve the Carthaginians on the one hand, or a more severe and tyrannical master on the other. If the Carthaginians prevail, by paying of tribute we shall enjoy our laws; but this tyrant robs our temples, seizes our estates, takes away our lives, and deprives masters of their servants to fill up the number of his mercenaries. And he that has acted as great cruelties in a time of peace, as any that have been executed upon the storming of cities in a time of war, now promises to put an end to the Carthaginian war. But it as highly concerns us, Oh fellow citizens, to be rid of the tyrant within our walls, as to put an end to the war without: for the castle, which is now garrisoned by our own slaves, is built as a fort against the city itself, and the mercenary soldiers are kept in pay to keep the Syracusans in slavery, and he himself lords it over the city, not as a good magistrate, for the execution of justice, but as sole and absolute lord, to rule according to the dictates of his own insatiable desires. The enemy now enjoys but a small part of the country, but Dionysius has bestowed all that he has conquered upon them that have given assistance to the advancement of his tyranny. Why are we content so long tamely to suffer these base abuses? such as a generous spirit would rather choose to die than to be brought into a hazard and danger to suffer and undergo. We, to say the truth, courageously endure the extremest hardships in fighting against the Carthaginians; but we are so poor-spirited, that we dare not speak a word for the laws and liberties of our country against a most cruel tyrant. We that dare bravely charge so many thousands of our enemies, are dastardly afraid of one tyrant, that has not the courage of a generous slave. No man ever presumed to compare or equal Dionysius with Gelon, for he, (through the innate goodness of his disposition), with the assistance of the Syracusans and other Sicilians, restored all Sicily to their liberty; but this vile man, when he found the cities free, either exposed them to the will of the enemy, or he himself made them perfect slaves. The other, after he had fought many battles in the cause of Sicily, was so successful that an enemy was not to be seen; but this tyrant, running away from Motya through the whole island, at length penned himself up, not daring to look his enemy in the face, yet fierce and cruel enough towards the citizens. The other, for his valour and remarkable services done for his country, had the sovereignty freely and willingly bestowed on him, not only by the Syracusans, but by all the Sicilians: but this man, who has usurped the sovereign power, to the ruin of the confederates and slavery of the citizens, why should he not be hated by all, who is not only unworthy of the supreme power, but deserves a thousand deaths besides? Though him Gela and Camarina are spoiled, Messana razed and laid in rubbish, and twenty thousand of our confederates destroyed; and things are now brought to that pass, that all the Greek cities throughout Sicily are ruined, and we are all cooped up into one. Among other mischiefs and miseries, Naxos and Catana are by him sold for nought, and many of the best situated and confederate cities razed to the ground. He fought twice with the Carthaginians, and was beaten in both. As soon as ever the sovereign power was given into his hand, he forthwith deprived the citizens of their liberties, putting to death all those that stood up for the laws of their country, and banishing those that were rich, to gain their estates, giving their wives in marriage to their servants, and to the lowest of the people, and putting arms into the hands of strangers and barbarians. All these wickednesses, Oh Jupiter, and all the gods! has this hangman and base mean fellow committed. Where is now the love of the laws and liberties among the Syracusans? Where are the noble actions of our ancestors? by whom were destroyed at Himera three hundred thousand Carthaginians; not to say anything of the tyrants deposed by Gelon. But that which is to be most admired is, and though your fathers, even but yesterday, routed so great an army of the Athenians that came against Syracuse, and that in such a manner as that they left not one to be a messenger of their destruction; though, I say, you have so fresh and example of your fathers' valour, yet that you should bow your necks to the yoke of Dionysius, and at this instant of time, when you have arms in your hands, is most strange. Certainly some good providence of the gods has brought you now hither together in arms, that you may have an opportunity to regain your liberty. Now is the day come wherein you may shew yourselves men of courage, and unanimously rescue yourselves from so base and shameful a slavery. It was an easy matter when we had no assistance, and the city was full of mercenary soldiers, to keep us under; but now that we are armed, now that we have confederates to assist us, and stand by us as spectators of our valour, let us not yield an inch, but make it manifest to all, that it was not cowardice, but want of opportunity, that made us seem to be so willing and content to be slaves. May we not be ashamed to have an enemy to be our general, one who has sacrilegiously robbed all the temples of the city! to intrust one in matters of the greatest public concern, that none (in his wits) would trust with his own private estate! And when we see that all men generally are more than ordinarily religious in times of war and imminent dangers, can we hope that such a notorious atheist as this should be instrumental to put a happy issue to this war? And if any man will but seriously consider, he may easily conclude that Dionysius is more afraid of peace than war. For he knows that the Syracusans (through fear of the bad consequences of commotions at the present time) dare not attempt any thing against him: but he foresees, that if the Carthaginians be conquered, the Syracusans, being then in arms and encouraged with the success, will seek to redeem themselves and regain their liberty. And this was the cause (as I conceive) that in the former war he most treacherously depopulated Gela and Camarina, and stripped them of all their inhabitants; and likewise agreed, as part of the articles of the league—That many of the Greek cities should never afterwards be inhabited by the Grecians. This was likewise the cause that afterwards, in a time of peace, and against the conditions agreed on, he enslaved Naxos and Catana, razed the one down to the ground, andgave away the other to the Campanians, a colony out of Italy. And when he perceived that, after the cities were thus ruined, the rest were continually plotting how to rescue themselves from his tyranny, he then, for a diversion, began this second war against the Carthaginians: for the sacred bonds of an oath did not so much bond him to the keeping of his league, as the fear of those Sicilians that remained tormented him, whose destruction he continually watched all opportunities to effect. When the enemy lately, weak and weather-beaten, landed at Panoramus, though he might easily then have fallen upon them with his whole army, yet was very far from doing such service to his country. Afterwards he suffered Messana, (that large city and commodious port), for want of relief, to be laid waste, not only because there were many Sicilians by that means cut off, but likewise that all aids by shipping from Italy and Peloponnesus might be intercepted by the Carthaginians. Then at last he fought upon the coasts near to Catana, even close to the city, that the enemy, if they were beaten, might have ready shelter in the port of their own allies. After this, and the fight was over, a storm arose, by reason whereof the Carthaginians were forced to draw up their ships into the harbour, at which time we had a fair opportunity of ruining them, their land army being not then come up, and their ships, many of them thrown upon the shore by the violence of the storm. If we had then set upon them with our land-army, they must all necessarily have either fallen into our hands, if they had come to land, or by the violence and rage of the sea the shore had been filled with wrecks. But I know I need not spend many words accusing Dionysius among the Syracusans: for if the incurable injuries and wrongs themselves will not raise the spirits of the sufferers, how can words prevail to take revenge of this miscreant? When besides all that they have suffered, they may clearly see that he is the most impious wretch of all the citizens, the cruelest tyrant, and most slothful and careless general: for as often as we fight the enemy under his conduct, so often are we beaten: but now when we lately engaged ourselves without him, we routed the enemy's whole fleet with a few gallies. We ought, therefore, to provide a new general, lest, while we make use of one who has sacrilegiously robbed the temples, we fight against God himself: for the deity apparently opposes them who make such an atheist their head and governor. For, to see all our forces, in the height of their strength, dispersed and scattered when he is with them, and yet a small part of our army conquerors when he is absent, what does it evidence to all the special and remarkable presence of the gods? Therefore, Oh ye Syracusans, if he will freely abdicate his government, let us as freely consent that he may depart out of the city with all that belongs to him; but if he refuses so to do, now we have an opportunity to regain our liberty. We are now here altogether, we have arms in our hands, and those that will assist us both out of Italy and Peloponnesus are near at hand. And by the law, the chief command in the army ought either to be given to some of the citizens or to some of the Corinthians, who are the natural inhabitants, or to the Spartans, who now command all Greece.
When Theodorus had thus spoken, the Syracusans (much perplexed in their minds, and doubtful what to do) looked back upon their confederates. Upon which, Pharacides the Lacedæmonian admiral of the fleet, (lately sent to their assistance), ascended the tribunal; and every man now hoped he would be very earnest in persuading them to stand up for their liberties. But he being Dionysius's guest, and then one of his family, told them—That he was sent by the Lacedæmonians to assist the Syracusans and Dionysius against the Carthaginians, and not to deprive him of his kingdom. And while he was, (contrary to all men's expectations), opposing what had been said, the mercenary soldiers all flocked about Dionysius, but the Syracusans, not a little amazed, sat still, but raged in their minds against the Spartans: for not long before, Aretas, the Lacedæmonian had betrayed them under the covert and pretence of being sent to free them from their slavery; and now Pharacides obstructed the Syracusans in their endeavours to free themselves. However, Dionysius was now in a great fright, and forthwith dissolved the assembly: and afterwards courted the people with very fair and smooth words, presenting some with large gifts, and inviting others to his feasts and banquets. But as to the Carthaginians, after they had ruined the suburbs, and rifled and plundered the temples of Ceres and Proserpina, a plague seized upon their army, and the more to increase and sharpen the vengeance of the gods upon them, both the time of the year, and the multitudes of men thronging together, greatly contributed to the enhancement and aggravation of their misery: for the summer was hotter than ordinary, and the place itself was the great occasion that the distemper raged above all bounds. For the Athenians in the very same place, not long before, were in multitudes swept away by the plague, for it was a marshy and spungy ground. In the beginning of the distemper, before the sun arose, through the coldness of the air that came off from the water, their bodies would fall a-shaking and trembling; but about noon, being so close pent up together, they were choked with the heat. The infection was brought in among them by the south wind, which swept them away in heaps, and for a while they buried them: but the number of the dead increasing to that degree, that those who attended the sick were likewise cut off, none durst approach the infected, and (besides the want of attendance) the distemper seemed to be incurable. At first, catarrhs and swellings of the throat were caused by the stench of the bodies that lay unburied, and the putrifaction of the soil. Then followed fevers, pains in the back, heaviness of the loins, dysenteries, and botches and boils over the whole body. Thus were many tormented by this plague; others were struck mad, and ran about the camp like wild beasts, and beat every one they met. All the help of the physicians was in vain, both by reason of the violence of the distemper, and the sudden despatch it made of many: for in the midst of great pains and horrible torments, they died commonly the fifth, or at most, the sixth day; so that they who died by the war, were accounted happy by all. And it was further observable, that all that attended upon the sick, died of the same distemper: and that which aggravated the misery was, that none were willing to come near to the distressed and languishing persons in order to administer to them any sort of help. For not only strangers, but even brothers, and dear and familiar friends and acquaintances, were forced, out of fear of the infection, to avoid and forsake one another. Dionysius, therefore, hearing of the miserable condition of the Carthaginians, manned fourscore sail, and ordered Pharacides and Leptinus the admirals, at spring of day, to fall upon the enemy's fleet. And he himself before the moon was up in the night, got his army together, and marching to the temple of Cyane, came up without being discovered, to the enemy's camp about break of day: he had sent the horse, and a thousand foot of the mercenaries before him, to fall upon that part of the enemy's camp that lay up farther into the land. These mercenaries hated Dionysius more than any other that were about him, and were often making disturbances, and mutinying upon all occasions; therefore Dionysius ordered the horse, as soon as they were engaged with the enemy, to fly and leave the mercenaries to be cut off, which was accordingly observed, and they were all killed upon the spot. Dionysius himself determined to assault the camp and the castles both at once. The barbarians, upon this sudden and unexpected incursion of the enemy, running in great confusion and disorder to their arms, gave him an opportunity to take the castle called Polictma by storm. On the other side, in the mean time, the horse, with some gallies, made to the fort near Dascon, and took it; and forthwith came up the whole fleet, and the army assaulted the rest of the forts with a mighty shout, which struck the barbarians with great terror and amazement; for at the first, they all ran to defend their camp, but now seeing the enemy's whole fleet come up, bestirred themselves to preserve their navy that then lay at anchor: but all their care was to little purpose, for they were prevented by the suddenness of surprise. For while they were ascending the decks, and hastening on board, the enemy's ships came up with that fierceness upon them, and so pierced their broadsides, that some were sunk downright at the first shock: others by repeated and frequent assaults were broken in pieces, so that the Carthaginians were filled with dread and horror. And while the best and greatest of their ships were up and down pierced through and through, the air resounded with a terrible noise by the crashing of the vessels, broken by the beaks of the gallies, and the shore over against them was presently filled with dead bodies. The Syracusans still more and more encouraged by their success, while each strove who should first leap into their enemy's ships, in every place killed and dispersed and scattered the barbarians, astonished and amazed with the fear of the present destruction. Neither was the land-army wanting in their assistance, in which Dionysius then was (by chance) having rode to Dascon some time before; for finding there forty ships of fifty oars apiece, besides ships of burthen that lay near them, and some gallies, they threw fire amongst them; upon which, the flame mounting up, and spreading itself far and wide, set all the ships on fire, and neither merchants nor mariners were able to stop the violence of the flame, which (the wind being then high) ran along from the ships at anchor, and caught upon the transport ships which lay near to them; and the men, to avoid the fire, leaping out of the ships into the sea, and the cables snapping asunder, the ships fell foul one upon another, by reason whereof some broke in pieces, many were burnt, and others by the violence of the winds scattered and dispersed here and there, so that all, one way or other, were destroyed. And here a show, as upon a theatre, was represented to the citizens, while the fire ran through the transport ships from one to another, and the flame mounted the masts, and consumed the main yards, and the ruin of the barbarians seemed like the overthrow of such as were destroyed for some notorious impiety by thunder and lightning from heaven. Upon these successes, both young and old that were able, took boats and passed over to the harbour, to rifle those ships that were almost consumed by the fire, and to save such as might be refitted; and those that were yet sound and untouched, to tow them by their hosts to the city. Yea, such was the exceeding joy and emulation of all to share in the honour of the victory, that those whom age might well have excused from intermedling with matters of war, yet now beyond their age and natural strength made themselves remarkable. And now the victory spread quickly through the city; upon which the women and children and whole families left their houses and ran to the walls and filled them with spectators, of whom some lifted up their hands to heaven, and gave thanks to the god; others cried out that the barbarians were justly punished for their profaneness in rifling and plundering of the temples. For, indeed, it seemed as if the gods themselves were engaged in the fight, where so many ships were on fire, with the flame mounting into the air, above the masts, and the Grecians only standing by (with joyful acclamations) as eye-witnesses of the happy event: and on the contrary, the barbarians, amazed and astonished with the dreadful misfortune, (in great confusion and with mournful cries), bewailing themselves. But night put an end to the battle, and Dionysius encamped near to the barbarians, at the temple of Jupiter. The Carthaginians being thus routed both by sea and land, sent ambassadors privately to Dionysius, to offer him three hundred talents, which they had then ready in the camp, if he would permit the remainder of their army to transport themselves into Africa. To this Dionysius answered, that he could not suffer all to be gone, but he was content that those who were citizens of Carthage might depart privately in the night, but no other: for he knew well enough that neither the Syracusans nor his confederates would ever suffer him to grant to them any such liberty. But he did this because he was unwilling uuterly to destroy the Carthaginians, that the Syracusans (through fear of them) might find no opportunity or leisure, by disturbing of him, to seek after the regaining of their liberty. Having therefore agreed with the Carthaginians that they should go the fourth night next after, he draws his whole army into the city: upon which Himilco delivered the three hundred talents to persons appointed for that purpose, who conveyed them secretly in the night into the castle. When the time appointed was come, Himilco filled forty gallies with citizens of Carthage, with an intent to be gone, leaving the rest of the army behind him. And he was no sooner entered into the port, but some Corinthians, discerning that Dionysius trifled away the time in getting the soldiers and officers together, were impatient, and forthwith made after them; and, by rowing hard, at length got up to the Carthaginian ships that were in the rear, which they sunk, by piercing them through the beaks of their ships. Afterwards Dionysius drew out his army; but the Sicilians who sided with eth Carthaginians were almost all fled through the heart of the country, and escaped to their several cities, before the Syracusans could reach them. In the mean time, when Dionysius had placed guards at several places to intercept those that fled, he marched with his army in the night to the enemy's camp; upon which all the barbarians, now betrayed both by their general and the Carthaginians, and likewise by the Sicilians, fled away in great fear and amazement, of whom part were taken falling in among their enemy's guards that waylaid them; others, and the greater part, threw away their arms, and cried for quarter; but the Spaniards, with their arms, got into a body and sent a trumpet to Dionysius, to offer themselves to him as confederates: upon which he made a league with them, and joined them to the regiments of his mercenaries. The rest of the common soldiers he took, and whatever was left of the bag and baggage he gave for plunder to the soldiers. And thus was the sudden change and turn of the Carthaginian affairs; from when all men may learn, that whoever they be that above measure exult themselves, may come in a short time to be convinced how weak and inconsiderable creatures they are. They who but a short time before were possessed of all the cities of Sicily but Syracuse, (which they accounted themselves likewise sure of), were presently brought into such a dilemma, as to be afraid lest they should lose their own country: and they who lately destroyed the sepulchres of the Syracusans, were now eye-witnesses of a hundred and fifty thousand carcases of their own men, that perished by the plague, lying rotting upon the ground without the honour of burial. They who had before burnt up all before them belonging to the Syracusans, by a sudden change of fortune, now saw their whole fleet wrapped up and consumed in flames. They who not long ago, in great pride and ostentation, entered into the port of Syracuse, boasting of their successes, little thought that in a short time after they should b forced to fly away in the night, and treacherously leave their confederates to the mercy of their enemies. The general himself, who had pitched his tent in the temple of Jupiter, and had robbed the temples of the riches laid up in them, shamefully fled away with a few to Carthage, and, though he escaped with life, yet he could not fly from the vengeance of the gods for his impiety, but lived all his days in disgrace in his own country, reproached and scorned by all: nay, he was reduced to that extremity of misery, that he wandered about all the temples of the city in rags, convinced of his own impiety, and doing penance for his notorious wickedness; and at length murdered himself, and died in extreme want and poverty, by his example leaving behind him an awful reverence for the gods among the citizens. Presently after, many other calamities of war overtook them: for, this overthrow being spread all over Africa, their confederates, who hated them before, now, for their treacherous desertion of the soldiers at Syracuse, abhorred the Carthaginians much more than formerly; and therefore, stirred up by rage on the one hand, and encouraged to contemn the Carthaginians, by reason of their late misfortune, on the other, they resolved to stand up for their liberty; and, having sent ambassadors into all parts, they raised an army, and at length encamped themselves in the field: upon which their presently came in to them not only free men, but slaves, so that in a little time they made up a body of two hundred thousand men.
In the first place they took Tunis, not far from Carthage; from thence they marched in a body, fought, and beat the Carthaginians, and drove them within their walls. At length the Carthaginians, (against whom the gods thus apparently fought) with faint and trembling hearts, assembled themselves together, to supplicate the deity to be appeased, and to put an end to his wrath and indignation against them; and presently a spirit of devotion (joined with fear) possessed the whole city, whilst every one expected to become miserable slaves. Therefore, all were of the opinion that the gods, who were offended, should by all means in the first place be pacified: and although they had never before sacrified to Proserpina or Ceres, yet now the chiefest of the citizens were consecrated to be priests for this service. And having set forth the statues of the gods with all pomp and solemnity, they ordered the sacrifices for the future to be made according to the Grecian rites and ceremonies; and they carefully made use of those Grecians that were with them, and who were best acquainted with the rites of their religion, to officiate in the sacrifice. But after this they prepared another navy, and all other things necessary for the carrying on of the war.
In the mean time the rebels, though they were a vast number of men, yet they wanted good and expert officers; and that which was worst of all, they wanted sufficient provision for such a multitude, which the Carthaginians were supplied with, having enough brought to them by sea from Sardinia. And, besides all this, the revolters fell a-quarrelling among themselves about the supreme command of the army; and some, bribed with money by the Carthaginians, fell off and deserted the common cause: and hence it came to pass, that (through want of provision, and treachery of some of their associates) this great rabble broke in pieces, and were dispersed here and there, every one to their own country and places of habitation, and so freed Carthage from the great fright they were lately in. And this was the state of affairs in Africa at this time.
As for Dionysius, he, discerning that the mercenaries bore him no good will, and therefore, lest they should depose him, seized upon Aristotle, their general; upon which the common soldiers ran to their arms, and in great rage demanded their pay. But he, to appease them, told them, that he would send Aristotle to Lacedæmon, to be tried there by the democracy, and gave them (who were about ten thousand) the city and country of Leontium for their pay, which they readily accepted, for the sweetness and pleasantness of the place; and divided the land amongst themselves by lot. Then he raised other mercenaries, to whom, and to those that were freemen of his own family, he committed the care and protection of his government.
After the overthrow of the Carthaginians, all those that remained of them that belonged to the cities that were taken by the Carthaginians throughout Sicily, got together, and, being restored to their several countries, began to get strength again: and Dionysius repeopled Messana with a thousand Locrians, four thousand Medimnians, and six hundred Milesians of Peloponnesus, who were exiles from Zacynthus and Naupactus. But when he discerned that he had offended the Lacedæmonians, by planting the Messanians (whom they had driven out) in so eminent and considerable a city, he removed them into another place in the province of Abacene, near the sea, limiting them within certain bounds. The Messanians called this city Tyndaris, and, living peaceably among themselves, and receiving many into the freedom of their city, they increased in a short time to above the number of five thousand. After many expeditions and incursions into the territories of the Sicilians, they took Simethus and Morgantium, and entered into a league with Agyrus, king of the Agyrinenses, and Damon, the petty prince of the Centuripians, as likewise with the Erbessians and Astorines. Cephaledion, Selinus, and Enna, were also brought under their power and government by treachery, and they made peace with them of Erbessa. And so stood the affairs of Sicily at that time.
- Marcus Æmilius Mamercus
- Cneius Cornelius
- Lucius Valerius
- Part of Syracuse.