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The Story of Greece by  Mary Macgregor

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TIMOLEON SENDS DIONYSIUS TO CORINTH

[289] TIMOLEON was ready to sail to Sicily with a fleet of seven vessels and a force of about one thousand men, when a message from Icetes reached the Corinthians.

The traitor told them it was useless to try to help the people of Sicily, for he had joined the Carthaginians, and their combined army would easily crush any force that was sent against them.

This made the Corinthians so angry that they at once added two hundred soldiers to Timoleon's small army, as well as three vessels to his fleet.

Even so, Timoleon's task seemed hopeless. Athens, with hundreds of ships and with tens of thousands of men, had failed to take Syracuse. How then could the Corinthian hope to do so with his handful of men and his small fleet?

Before he sailed, Timoleon journeyed to Delphi to offer sacrifices to Apollo. As he prayed in the temple, a wreath slipped from its place and fell upon his head. It seemed to Timoleon that Apollo was already crowning him with victory.

At length all was ready, and the army embarked and set sail with a favourable wind. Suddenly a bright flame leaped out from the sky and hovered over the ship in which Timoleon sailed. The flame soon changed into a torch which guided the ships until they reached Rhegium, a town in Sicily.

Here Timoleon learned that Icetes had already defeated Dionysius, who was now shut up in the citadel of Syracuse, [290] and that he had sent the Carthaginians with twenty warships to Rhegium to keep the Corinthians from reaching Sicily.

Timoleon had only ten vessels, and he knew it would be impossible to leave Rhegium unless he could in some way cheat the enemy.

So he pretended to agree to Icetes' demands, and then begged the Carthaginian generals to go with him to the assembly to tell the people what they had agreed. Meanwhile he had given orders to his fleet to be ready to sail the moment he returned.

In the assembly the generals and the people of Rhegium began to talk, and they grew so interested in what they were saying that they paid very little attention to Timoleon. The generals indeed forgot all about him, which was just what the Corinthians had hoped would happen.

By and by when the conversation seemed most engrossing, Timoleon slipped quietly out of the hall and hastened to the harbour. The moment he was on board his ship, the fleet set sail and before long reached Sicily in safety.

Without their generals, the Carthaginians had not known what to do, and while they had hesitated Timoleon had escaped. But when the Carthaginian generals found out how they had been tricked, their indignation knew no bounds.

Not far from the small town at which the Corinthians landed was a city named Adranum, where there was a temple consecrated to the god Adranus. This deity was reverenced throughout the whole island.

The city was divided into two parties, one of which sent for Icetes, the other for Timoleon, to help them each against the other.

Both generals at once set out for Adranum, Icetes with five thousand, Timoleon with only twelve hundred men. On the second day the Corinthians found that in spite of all their haste they had been outstripped by the army of Icetes. It was already encamped close to the city.

The Corinthian officers begged Timoleon to order a halt, [291] as there seemed no need for further haste, and their men needed food and rest after their hurried march.

But Timoleon wished to take the enemy by surprise. He thought that if they did not delay they would reach Icetes and his men while they were putting up their tents and preparing supper. So instead of listening to his officers, he seized his shield, and going to the head of his army he bade them follow him and he would lead them to victory. The enemy's camp was still three and a half miles away, but the Corinthians marched on bravely.

As Timoleon had hoped, he reached the camp of the enemy while the men were getting ready a meal and were unprepared to fight.

Before they were aware of his approach, Timoleon had fallen upon them and put them to flight, taking the camp as well as many prisoners.

The people of Adranum at once opened their gates to the victorious general, and told him that when the battle began, the doors of their temple suddenly opened of their own accord. On the threshold stood their god, holding his javelin in his hand. It was trembling as though the god was weary with its weight.

Other cities, when they heard of the victory of the Corinthians, gladly entered into alliance with them.

Meanwhile Dionysius, shut up in Syracuse by Icetes, was growing tired of his position, and food was becoming scarce in the citadel. He, too, thought it would be well to make terms with Timoleon.

So he sent to the Corinthian general to offer to surrender the citadel if he would promise to send him in safety to Corinth.

When Timoleon heard this he felt more than ever sure that the gods were on his side. He gladly accepted the tyrant's offer, and at once sent two of his officers and a company of men to receive the keys of the citadel.

Dionysius treated the Corinthians well, leaving to them [292] a number of horses, a store of weapons and two thousand soldiers. He himself escaped from the city and fled to the camp of Timoleon. Soon afterwards he set sail for Corinth.

Tidings of his arrival was sent before him, and as the ship drew near to the harbour, the people gathered there in excited groups. They had often shuddered at the tale of the cruel deeds of the man who was now coming to their city, shorn of his power. They were eager to see him.

A few weeks later they wondered if this man had really been as cruel as they had been told. They saw him contentedly loitering in the market-place or spending long hours in the shops of the perfumers, and it seemed to them as though he must always have been as harmless as he was now. In later years the tyrant is said to have taught the boys and girls of Corinth to read, and he also trained those who wished to sing in public.

Timoleon had not been fifty days in Sicily before Dionysius was on his way to Corinth. The Corinthians were so pleased with their general that they determined to send him reinforcements, both of cavalry and infantry. But it was some time before the fresh troops reached Timoleon, for the Carthaginian fleet was waiting near the coast of Italy to bar the way.


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