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
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
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
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
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.