The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


actually preparing to join the allied armament when he was prevented by the news of the Car­thaginian invasion of Sicily (Herod, vii, 163— 165), and this appears to have been also the ac­count of the matter given by Ephorus (ap. Schol. ad Pind. Pytli. i. 146). The expedition of the Carthaginians is attributed by the last-mentioned historian (1. c.\ as well as by Diodprus (xi. 1,20), to an alliance concluded by them with Xerxes: Herodotus, with more probability, represents them as called in by Terillus, tyrant of Himera, who had ,been expelled from that city by Theron of Agri-gentum. The circumstances of their expedition are variously related, and may be suspected of much exaggeration (see Niebuhr, Led. on Rom. Hist. vol. i. p. 105, ed. Schmitz), but the leading facts are unquestionable. The Carthaginian general Hamilcar arrived at Panormus with an army, as it is said, of 800,000 men, and advancing without opposition as far as Himera, laid siege to that place, which was, however, vigorously defended by The-con of Agrigentum. Gelon had previously formed in alliance and matrimonial connection with Theron, having married his daughter Demarete (Schol. ad Find. Ol. ii. 1, 29): no sooner, therefore, did he hear of his danger than he advanced to his succour it the head of a force of 50,000 foot and 5000 horse. In the battle that ensued the Carthaginians were totally defeated, with a loss, as it is pretended, of 150,000 men, while nearly the whole of the re­mainder fell into the hands of the enemy as pri­soners. Hamilcar himself was among the slain, md a few ships, which had made their escape with i number of fugitives on board, perished in a storm, 50 that scarcely a messenger returned to bear the lisastrous news to Carthage. (Herod, vii. 165,166 ; Diod. xi. 20—24 ; xiii. 59 ; Ephorus, ap. Schol. Find. Pyth. i. 146 ; Polyaen. i. 27. J 2.) This victory was gained, according to the accounts re-Dorted by Herodotus, on the very same day as ;hat of Salamis, while Diodorus asserts it to have Deen the same day with Thermopylae: the exact jynchronism may in either case be erroneous, but ,he existence of such a belief so early as the time >f Herodotus must be admitted as conclusive evi-lenceof the expedition of the Carthaginians having •>een contemporary with that of Xerxes ; hence ;he battle of Himera must have been fought in ;he autumn of 480 b. c. (Comp. Aristot. Poet. 23. 33.)

So great a victory naturally raised Gelon to the lighest pitch of power and reputation: his friend-ihip was courted even by /those states of Sicily ivhich had been before opposed to him, and, if we nay believe the accounts transmitted to us, a lolemn treaty of peace was concluded between him md the Carthaginians, by which the latter repaid lim the expenses of the war. (Diod. xi. 26 ; Ti-naeus, ap. Schol. Pind. Pytli. ii. 3.) A stipu-ation is said by some writers to have been inserted ;hat the Carthaginians should refrain for the future Vom human sacrifices, but there can be little doubt ;hatthis is a mere fiction of later times. (Theophrast. ip. Schol. Pind. I.e.; Plut. Apophth. p. 175, de \er. Num. vind. p. 552.) Gelon applied the large mms thus received, as well as the spoils taken in ;he war, to the erection of several splendid temples ;o adorn his favoured city, at the same time that le sent magnificent offerings to Delphi, and the >ther sanctuaries in Greece itself. (Diod. xi. 26 ; Paus. vi. 19. § 7 ; Athen. vi. p. 231.) He seems



to have now thought himself sufficiently secure of his power to make a show of resigning it, and ac­cordingly presented himself unarmed and thinly clad before the assembled army and populace of Syracuse. He then entered into an elaborate re-; view of his past conduct, and concluded with offer­ing to surrender his power into the hands of the people—a proposal which was of course rejected, and he was hailed by the acclamations of the multitude as their preserver and sovereign. (Diod.1 xi. 26; Polyaen. i. 27. § 1; Ael. V. H. vi. 11.) He did not, however, long survive to enjoy his ho­nours, having been carried off by a dropsy in b.c. 478, only two years after his victory at Himera, and seven from the commencement of his reign over Syracuse, (Diod. xi. 38 •, Arist. Pol. v. 9 j Schol. ad Pind. Pytli. i. 89 ; Plut. de Pyfh. Orac. p. 403.) It appears from Aristotle (Pol. v. 10 ; sees also Schol. ad Pind. Nem. ix. 95) that he left an infant son, notwithstanding which, according to Diodorus, he on his deathbed appointed his brother Hieron to be his successor.

We know very little of the internal adminis­tration or personal character of Gelon: it is not unlikely that his brilliant success at Himera shed a lustre over his name which was extended to the rest of his conduct also. But he is represented by late writers as a man of singular leniency and moderation, and as seeking in every way to pro­mote the welfare of his subjects ; and his name even appears to have become almost proverbial as an instance of a good monarch. (Diod. xi. 38, 67, xiii. 22, xiv. 66 ; Plut. Dion. 5, de ser. Num. vind. p. 551.) He was, however, altogether illiterate (Ael. V. H. iv. 15); and perhaps this circumstance may account for the silence of Pindar concerning his al­leged virtues, which would otherwise appear some? what suspicious. But even if his good qualities a» a ruler have been exaggerated, his popularity at the time of his death is attested by the splendid tomb erected to him by the Syracusans at the public ex? pense, and by the heroic honours decreed to his me­mory. (Diod. xi. 38.) Nearly a century and a half afterwards, when Timoleon sought to extirpate as far as possible all records of the tyrants that had ruled in Sicily, the statue of Gelon alone was spared. (Plut. Timol 23.)

Concerning the chronology of the reign of Gelon see Clinton (F. H. vol. ii. p. 266, &c.), Pausanias (vi. 9. § 4,5, viii. 42. § 8), Dionysius (vii. l),and Niebuhr (Rom. Hist. vol. ii. p. 97, note 201). The last writer adopts the date of the Parian chronicle; which he supposes to be taken from Timaeus, ac­ cording to which Gelon did not begin to reign at Syracuse until b. c. 478; but it seems incredible that Herodotus should have been mistaken in a matter of such public notoriety as the contemporaneity of the battle of Himera with the expedition of Xerxes. ;

2. Son of Hieron II., king of Syracuse, who died before his father, at the age of more than 50 years. Very little is known concerning him, but he appears to have inherited the quiet and prudent character of Hieron himself; and it is justly re­corded to his praise, by Polybius, that he sacrificed all objects of personal ambition to the duty of obedience and reverence to his parents. (Polyb. vii. 8.) It seems clear, however, that he was associated by Hieron with himself in the govern* ment, and that he even received the title of king. (Schweighauser, ad Polyb. v. 88 ; Diod. Exo*

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of