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The Story of Greece by  Mary Macgregor

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The Story of Greece
by Mary Macgregor
Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation.  Ages 10-14
505 pages $16.95   




[293] 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 festival.

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 ground.

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 general.

Meanwhile the stranger who had killed one of the assassins had fled to the top of a great precipice that over- [294] 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 the evil-doer.

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 walls.

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 had hidden.

[295] 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 taken.

This wonderful success was said by everyone to be due to the good fortune that followed all that Timoleon undertook.

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 streets.

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.

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