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Syracuse in despair, when besieged by the Carthaginians, b. c. 396 (Diod. xiv. 8 ; Plut. Dion, 35), and this account may be substantially correct, even though the saying attributed to him, that a despot should not abandon his power unless dragged from it by main force, seems to be more correctly ascribed to Megacles or Polyxenus. But at a later period he excited the jealousy of the tyrant by marrying, without his consent, one of the daughters of his brother Leptines, and was in consequence banished from Sicily. He at first retired to Thurii, but afterwards established himself at Adria, where he previously possessed friendly relations : and it was here that he devoted the leisure afforded him by his exile to the composition of the historical work which has given celebrity to his name. (Diod. xv. 7 ; Pint. Dion, 11 ; the latter author, however, in another passage, de Exil. p. 605, d. speaks of him as spending the period of his exile in Epeirus.) But he always bore his exile with impatience, and is accused both of indulging in abject lamentations over his hard fate and fallen fortunes, and of base and unworthy flattery towards Dionysius, in hopes of conciliating the tyrant, and thus obtaining his recal. (Plut, Timol 15 ; Pans. i. 13. § 9.) These arts, however, failed in producing any effect during the lifetime of the elder Dionysius, but after his death, and the accession of his son, those who were opposed to the influence which Dion and Plato were acquiring over the young despot, persuaded the latter to recal Philistus from his banishment, in hopes that from his age and experience, as well as his military talents, he might prove a counterpoise to the increasing power of the two philosophers. Nor were they disappointed : Philistus seems quickly to have established his influence over the mind of the young Dionysius, and was consulted by him in the most confidential manner, while he exerted all his efforts to alienate him from his former friends, and not only caused Plato to be sent back to Athens, but ultimately succeeded in effecting the banishment of Dion also. (Plut. Dion, 11—14 ; Corn. Nep. Dion, 3; Pseud. Plat. Ep. 3. p. 671.) From this time the influence of Philistus became paramount at the court of Dionysius, but he was unfortunately absent from Sicily, in the command of a fleet in the Adriatic, when Dion first landed in the island, and made himself master of Syracuse, b. c. 356. He thereupon hastened to return to Sicily, but was unsuccessful in an attempt to recover Leontini, which had revolted against Dionysius, and afterwards joined the latter in the citadel of Syracuse. Here he directed all his efforts to the formation of a powerful fleet, and having equipped a force of 60 triremes, proceeded to give battle to the Syra-cusan fleet, which had been lately reinforced by Heracleides with a squadron of 20 ships from the Peloponnese. The contest was long and obstinate, but at length the ship of Philistus was surrounded by the enemy, and finding himself cut off from all hopes of escape, he put an end to his own life to avoid falling into the hands of his enraged countrymen. His body was treated with the utmost indignity, and dragged through the streets by the populace in an ignominious manner (Diod. xvi. 11,16 ; Plut. Dion, 35 ; Tzetz. Chil. x. 358 ; Suid. s.v. $i\i(rros erroneously represents his death as having occurred in a sea-fight against the Carthaginians).
It is perhaps too much to represent Philisttis,. as has been done by some writers of antiquity, as a man naturally disposed in favour of absolute power (" hominem amicum non magis tyranno quam tyrannidi," says Cornelius Nepos, Dion, 3) ; but it is clear that he was desirous to uphold by every means a despotism under the favour of which he enjoyed wealth and power, and had the opportunity of indulging his natural taste for luxury and magnificence. There seems no doubt that he possessed very considerable talents of a practical as well as literary kind, but he wholly wanted the lofty and generous spirit which should animate the citizen of a free republic : and this character was reflected in his writings, which presented a marked contrast to those of Thucydides in their spirit and sentiments, notwithstanding a close imitation in style. (Plut. Dion, 36 ; Dion. Hal. de Vett. Script, p. 427, Ep. ad Pomp. p. 780, ed. Reiske.)
In regard to the writings of Philistus much confusion has been caused by a passage of Suidas (v. <£/Aicrros), where that author has confounded him with the orator philiscus, the pupil of Isocrates, and has in consequence attributed to him various rhetorical works, which may unquestionably be assigned to the latter. The statement that the historian Philistus was also a pupil of Isocrates, is derived solely from a passage in Cicero (de Orat. ii. 22), where it seems certain that we should read Philiscus: for Cicero himself has in another passage distinctly mentioned Philistus in opposition to the pupils of Isocrates, Theopompus, and Epho-rus. On chronological grounds also it seems impossible to admit the assertion. Suidas, on the contrary, calls him a pupil of Evenus, an elegiac poet, but this also seems to be a mistake (Goeller, de Situ Syrac. pp. 108—118).
Suidas also enumerates several historical works, especially a history of Egypt, in 12 books, one of Phoenicia, and another of Libya and Syria ; all which he expressly ascribes to the author of the Sicilian history. But as no trace of any of these works is to be found in any other authority, it has been reasonably doubted whether the whole statement is not erroneous. (Wesseling, ad Diod. xiii. p. 615 ; Goeller, /. c. pp. 106, 124.) Some authors, however, have supposed that these writings are to be attributed to a second Philistus, who was really a native of Naucratis in Egypt, which would account also for the error of Suidas, who calls our historian NcwKpaTirrj? rj ^vpaitovaios. (Bayle, Diet. Crit. s. v. Philist. not. C.) It is certain, however, that no mention is elsewhere found of any other writer of the name of Philistus ; nor does any ancient author except Suidas allude to nny work of his composition besides his celebrated Sicilian history. This consisted of two portions, which might be regarded either as two separate works, or as parts of one great whole, a circumstance which explains the discrepancies in the statements of the number of books of which it was composed. The first seven books comprised the general history of Sicily, commencing from the earliest times, and ending with the capture of Agrigentum by the Carthaginians, b.c. 406. Diodorus tells us that this portion included a period of more than 800 years : he began with the mythical times, and the alleged colonies in Sicily, founded by Daedalus and others before the Trojan war ; besides which he appears to have entered at some length into the origin and migrations of the original inhabitants