Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
ICETES TRIES TO SLAY TIMOLEON
 THE small band of Corinthians who now held the citadel of
Syracuse was closely besieged by Icetes. But soon he
grew tired of waiting for it to surrender and hit, as
he thought, on a quicker way of driving the enemy out
of the island.
Without Timoleon he would not fear the Corinthians, so
he resolved to get rid of him without delay. He hired
two foreign soldiers and sent them to Adranum with
orders to kill the general.
Timoleon went about without a bodyguard, as Icetes
knew. When the assassins reached the city, he was in
the temple, sacrificing to the gods, for it was a
With their daggers hidden beneath their cloaks, the men
slipped in among the crowd of worshippers and were soon
standing together, close to the altar.
As they hesitated to strike the fatal blow, a sword
flashed out behind, and one of them fell slain to the
His companion, in his terror, forgot to kill Timoleon,
and laid hold of the altar lest he too should be slain
by an unseen foe.
When his terror grew a little less he did not try to
obey Icetes' orders, but begged Timoleon to spare his
life and he would tell him everything.
Timoleon promised that his life should be safe, and
then the miserable man confessed that he and his friend
had been hired by Icetes to kill the Corinthian
Meanwhile the stranger who had killed one of the
assassins had fled to the top of a great precipice that
over-  looked the city. Here he was captured, and as he was
hurried before Timoleon he told the guards that the man
he had slain was one who years before had killed his
father. He pleaded that he had done right to punish
It may be that the Corinthians and the citizens of
Adranum agreed with their prisoner; in any case they
were so grateful that he had saved the life of Timoleon
that they gave him a gift of money and set him free.
As the attack on Timoleon had failed, the Carthaginians
thought they would try to frighten the citadel of
Syracuse into surrendering. So they decked the masts
of their ships with wreaths, and hung Grecian shields
over the sides of their vessels. Then with shouts of
victory they sailed toward the harbour.
From the citadel, the garrison saw the ships and heard
the shouts, but it was not so easily deceived as Mago,
the general of the Carthaginians, had expected. The
Corinthians were sure that Timoleon would have managed
to let them know had he been defeated, so they laughed
at the enemy's trick and stayed safe within their
Soon after this the reinforcements sent from Corinth
joined Timoleon, and he then marched to Syracuse.
Mago had already begun to doubt the loyalty of Icetes.
He feared that he was trying to make terms with
Timoleon. When, a little later, he saw the soldiers of
both generals talking together in a friendly way as
they fished for eels in the marshes near the city, he
grew more suspicious. Day by day his fears grew, until
at length in a panic, he ordered his troops to embark
and set sail for Africa.
The very day after Mago had deserted his post, Timoleon
himself reached Syracuse. He looked at the empty
harbour. Where was the enemy? Not a single
Carthaginian vessel was to be seen.
When Timoleon learned how Mago had fled, he laughed at
his cowardice, and still laughing he offered a reward
to anyone who would tell him where the Carthaginians
 But although Mago had fled, Icetes and his men still
held the city. But the wisdom of Timoleon and the
valour of his troops soon put them to flight, and
without the loss of one Corinthian soldier the city was
This wonderful success was said by everyone to be due
to the good fortune that followed all that Timoleon
The citizens of Syracuse thought that Timoleon would
now make himself tyrant. To their surprise as well as
to their joy, he proclaimed that they themselves were
to govern the city. He ordered the public crier to go
through the streets, bidding all those who were
willing, to come with pickaxe and hammer to pull down
the citadel which Dionysius had built.
The people did not need to be asked twice.
With right goodwill they destroyed not only
the citadel, but the palaces in which
the tyrants of Syracuse
had dwelt. And while they pulled down the walls,
flutes sounded and women danced and sang. On the
places where the palaces had stood, Timoleon ordered
courts of justice to be built.
So neglected and forsaken had the city been during the
rule of the tyrants, as well as during the siege, that
grass was growing in the market-place, grass enough to
feed the soldiers' horses.
All over Sicily, cities had been deserted, and in some
of them deer and wild boars wandered up and down the
Timoleon saw that if the island was to grow prosperous
again, those who had fled must be brought back, and new
citizens must come and settle in the different cities.
So he sent to Corinth to ask her to send out colonists
to the island. This she did, and she also sent vessels
to Asia to bring back to their island home those who
had taken refuge there. Soon sixty thousand citizens
were added to the inhabitants of Sicily.