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Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: Regional History or Period History
Forum Name: Ancient Mediterranean and Europe
Forum Description: Greece, Macedon, Rome and other cultures such as Celtic and Germanic tribes
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Printed Date: 19-Apr-2018 at 22:24
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Topic: Dionysius
Posted By: Winterhaze13
Subject: Dionysius
Date Posted: 13-Mar-2005 at 14:29

I was wondering if anyone had heard of or knew anything about Syracusan military leader Dionysius, who was a very successful and talented leader. Can anyone share any information about this underappreciated warrior? Here is what I know about him:

He reigned between 405-367 B.C. in the Sicilian city of Syracuse. He strenghened the power of Syracuse by fighting a number of wars against Carthage, which made me fascinated in him. Here is a chronology of his life:

404- After gaining power the year before, Dionysis concludes a war with Carthage.

403-400- Expanded Syracusan control over neighboring regions.

398-397- First War with Carthage. A Carthaginian army under Hilmilco besieges Syracuse, but is droven away by heavy loses. Carthage loses the war and abandons territory in the eastern and central rgions of Sicily.

392- Second War with Carthage. Syracuse is successful and establishes rule over much of the Island of Sicily. Carthage retains minor territory.

389- Dionysius established Syracuse as the leading power in the central mediterranean by defeating the Italiote League in the Battle of Elleporus. Dionysius had conquered Sicily and South Italy.

385-376- Third War with Carthage. This time Carthage is successful and as a result they substantially increased territory in the western and central regions of Sicily.

368-367- Fourth War with Carthage. This was inconclusive, but ended with the death of the Syracusan ruler Dionysius.

After his death in 367, Syracuse suffered from two decades of turmoil ending in the ascendency of another very capable military ruler, Timoleon.

Source: R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy. The Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1986. Pages 56-67.

More Information on Dionysius: - - - - _of_Syracuse.htm - -

Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.

-- Voltaire
French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist (1694 - 1778)

Posted By: Molossos
Date Posted: 15-Mar-2005 at 06:54

Your interest in Dionysius is natural I believe since he was a very ruthless but competent politician. He ruled Syracuse for many years but his end was not that glorious. The office he held was that of tyrannos, which does not necessarily translate into the modern version of tyrant. It was an office that meant that an oligarchic regime was established, with an absolute ruler on top of the hierarchy.

Dionysius' life is briefly described in this nice link: - t%3A1999.04.0062%3Aid%3Ddionysius . However, you can try finding primary sources about him, especially Diodorus' 16th book of his work and a few of the previous ones I think.

Posted By: conon394
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2005 at 16:58
 You might also look into the recent book by Brian Caven -  Dionysius I: Warlord of Sicily.

Syracuse seemed to have a knack for producing Tyrants with very, long and flamboyant careers; Agathocles was as interesting and ambitious as Dionysius.

Posted By: Jorsalfar
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2005 at 16:59
wasnt Dionysius also the name of the Greek god of wine?

Posted By: conon394
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2005 at 17:37
They are two slightly different names:

The God : Dionysus
Greek Name : Dionysius

Posted By: Komnenos
Date Posted: 31-Mar-2005 at 18:11
One of the great German poets Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)wrote a ballad about Dionysios, the tyrant of Syracuse.
I had to learn that by heart in school.
It's story of a failed assassination of Dionysios, the assailant is sentenced to death, but asks the king to be allowed to go home to marry his sister and to leave his best friend as a hostage. After many dangers he arrives back in Syracuse just in time as the execution of the friend is about to begin. Dionysios is so touched by this honesty that he cancells the death sentences and asks to join their union of frienship.
Any historical thruth? No idea.

The Pledge

To Dionysius, the tyrant, would sneak
Damon, concealing a dagger;
He’s slapped by the guards in a fetter.
“What would you do with that dagger, speak!”
Demands the despot, his visage bleak.
“I would free the state from a tyrant!”
“For that, on the cross be repentant.”
And long he regards them with wondering eye,
Then he speaks: “You have prospered,
My heart you now have conquered,
And true faith, ’tis no empty vanity,
So into your friendship’s bond take me,
I would, if allowed my intention,
Become the third in your union.”


Posted By: Yiannis
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2005 at 06:47

Most likely it's a myth that derives from the mutation of a true event or a parabole...


Since you like stories, search also for "Damocles", another Dionysius related story about the burdons of power. The "sword of Damocles" is a well-knoen proverb


The basis of a democratic state is liberty. Aristotle, Politics

Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

Posted By: Winterhaze13
Date Posted: 24-May-2005 at 17:31

Mod Edit (Lannes):  Don't flood with links. -

Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.

-- Voltaire
French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist (1694 - 1778)

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