From what beginnings Agathocles rose in making himself tyrant of Syracuse (chaps. 1‑9).
How the exiles from Croton took the field against their native city and were all slain (chap. 10).
The return of Olympias and her son to the kingdom (chap. 11).
The capture and death of Eurydicê and of King Philip (chap. 11).
How Eumenes went into the upper satrapies with the Silver Shields and collected the satraps and their armies in Persia (chaps. 12‑15).
How Attalus and Polemon, together with those who took part with them in the attack on the guard, were taken and killed (chap. 16).
How Antigonus pursued Eumenes and was defeated at the Coprates River (chaps. 17‑18).
How he set out into Media and lost many of his troops in the passes (chaps. 19‑20).
Antigonus' battle against Eumenes and the satraps in Paraetacenê (chaps. 21‑31).
The withdrawal of Antigonus and his army into Media for winter quarters (chaps. 32‑34).
Cassander's invasion of Macedonia and his siege of Olympias in Pydna (chaps. 35‑36).
p221 How Eumenes outgeneralled Antigonus when the latter was going through the desert (chaps. 37‑38).
The march of Antigonus through the desert against the enemy and his attack on their elephants in the winter quarters (chap. 39).
How after a pitched battle Antigonus gained control of all the forces of his opponents (chaps. 40‑43).
How he killed Eumenes and such other generals as had been his enemies (chap. 44).
The flood at Rhodes and the disasters that befell that city (chap. 45).
The death of Pithon at the hands of Antigonus and the destruction of those who had been instigated by him to revolt in Media (chaps. 46‑48).
The capture of Olympias by Cassander, and her death (chaps. 49‑51).
How Cassander married Thessalonicê, the daughter of Philip son of Amyntas; and how he founded a city named for himself on Pallenê (chap. 52).
How Polyperchon, giving up the cause of the kings as hopeless, fled to Aetolia (chap. 52).
How Cassander restored the city of Thebes, which had been razed by Alexander (chap. 53).
About the misfortunes that had befallen Thebes in former times, and how often the city had been destroyed (chap. 53).
On the operations of Cassander in the Peloponnesus (chap. 54).
The march of Antigonus and his army to the sea, and the flight of Seleucus into Egypt to Ptolemy (chap. 55).
The alliance of Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Cassander, and Lysimachus also, for the war against Antigonus (chaps. 56‑57).
p223 How Antigonus built many ships and sent generals to Greece and to Pontus (chaps. 58‑60).
How he established friendship with Alexander, the son of Polyperchon, and took Tyre by siege; and how Alexander shifted his allegiance to Cassander (chaps. 61‑64).
How Polycleitus, the admiral of Ptolemy, defeated the generals of Antigonus both on land and on sea (chap. 64).
About the campaign of Agathocles against the Messenians, and the peace in which the Carthaginians were the mediators (chap. 65).
The revolt of Nuceria from the Romans (chap. 65).
p3 The operations of the generals of Antigonus and of Cassander in Greece (chap. 66).
Cassander's campaign in Aetolia and the country about the Adriatic (chaps. 67‑68).
How the Syracusan exiles, after persuading the people of Acragas to fight against Agathocles, sent for a general from Lacedaemon, Acrotatus (chap. 70).
How Acrotatus accepted the generalship and ruled as a tyrant; and how the Acragantines made peace with the dynast (chap. 71).
The Roman operations in Iapygia (chap. 72).
The revolt of the Callantians from Lysimachus, and what befell those who were dispatched to their aid by Antigonus (chap. 73).
How the Romans defeated the Samnites in battle, and a little later won back the Campanians who had revolted (chap. 76).
p5 How Antigonus sent Ptolemaeus as general with an army to liberate the Greeks, and about his operations in Greece (chaps. 77‑78).
The revolt and the capture of Cyrenê, also the campaign of Ptolemy into Cyprus and Syria (chap. 79).
The battle of Demetrius against Ptolemy, and the victory of Ptolemy (chaps. 80‑86).
The desertion of Antigonus by his general Telesphorus (chap. 87).
The operations of Cassander in Epirus and on the Adriatic (chaps. 88‑89).
How Seleucus received a small force from Ptolemy, gained control of Babylon, and recovered the satrapy that he had formerly possessed (chaps. 90‑92).
How Antigonus took Coelê Syria without a battle, and how he dispatched an army into Arabia (chaps. 93‑100).
About the customs observed by the Arabian tribes (chap. 94).
About what is called the Bituminous Sea (chaps. 98‑99).
How Antigonus sent his son Demetrius with the army into Babylonia (chap. 100).
About the operations of the Romans and the Samnites (chap. 101).
How Agathocles deceived the Messenians and became ruler of their city (chap. 102).
How he slew those of the Messenians, Tauromenians, and Centoripians who opposed him (chaps. 102‑103).
How Agathocles defeated Deinocrates and the exiles at Galaria (chap. 104).
p7 The death of Roxanê and of King Alexander (chap. 105).
The operations of the Romans in Italy (chap. 105).
About the shipwreck that befell the Carthaginians (chap. 106).
How the Carthaginians defeated Agathocles in a battle at Himera and shut him up in Syracuse (chaps. 107‑110).
p225 1 1 An old saying has been handed down that it is not men of average ability but those of outstanding superiority who destroy democracies. For this reason some cities, suspecting those of their public men who are the strongest, take away from them their outward show of power. 2 It seems that the step to the enslavement of the fatherland is a short one for men who continue in positions of power, and that it is difficult for those to abstain from monarchy who through eminence have acquired hopes of ruling; 3 for it is natural that men who thirst for greatness should seek their own aggrandizement and cherish desires that know no bounds. The Athenians, for example, exiled the foremost of their citizens for this reason, having established by law what was known among them as ostracism;3 and this they did, not to inflict punishment for any injustice previously committed, but in order that those citizens who were strong enough to disregard the laws might not get an opportunity to do wrong at the expense of their fatherland. 4 Indeed, they used to recite as an oracle that saying of Solon in which, while foretelling the tyranny of Peisistratus, he inserts this couplet:
5 More than anywhere else this tendency toward the rule of one man prevailed in Sicily before the Romans became rulers of that island; for the cities, deceived by demagogic wiles, went so far in making the weak strong that these became despots over those whom they had deceived. 6 The most extraordinary instance of all is that of Agathocles who became tyrant of the Syracusans, a man who had the lowest beginnings, but who plunged not only Syracuse but also the whole of Sicily and Libya into the gravest misfortunes. 7 Although, compelled by lack of means and slender fortune, he turned his hand to the potter's trade, he rose to such a peak of power and cruelty that he enslaved the greatest and fairest of all islands, for a time possessed the larger part of Libya5 and parts of Italy, and filled the cities of Sicily with outrage and slaughter. 8 No one of the tyrants before him brought any such achievements to completion nor yet displayed such cruelty toward those who had become his subjects. For example, he used to punish a private individual by slaughtering all his kindred, and to exact reckoning from cities by murdering the people from youth up; and on account of a few who were charged with a crime, he would compel the many, p229 who had done no evil at all, to suffer the same fate, condemning to death the entire population of cities.
9 But since this Book embraces all other events as well as the tyranny of Agathocles, we shall forgo preliminary statements about it and set forth the events that follow those already related, stating first the time covered by the account. 10 In the preceding eighteen Books we have described to the best of our ability the events that have occurred in the known parts of the inhabited world from the earliest times down to the year before the tyranny of Agathocles, up to which time the years from the destruction of Troy are eight hundred and sixty-six; in this Book, beginning with that dynasty, we shall include events up to the battle at Himera between Agathocles and the Carthaginians, embracing a period of seven years.
2 1 When Demogenes was archon in Athens, the Romans elected to the consulship Lucius Plotius and Manius Fulvius,6 and Agathocles of Syracuse became tyrant of his city. In order to make clearer the series of events, we shall briefly take up the life of that dynast at an earlier point.
2 Carcinus of Rhegium, an exile from his native city, settled in Therma in Sicily, a city that had been brought under the rule of the Carthaginians.7 Having formed a union with a native woman and made her pregnant, he was constantly troubled in his sleep. p231 3 Being thus made anxious about the begetting of the child, he instructed certain Carthaginian envoys who were setting out for Delphi to ask the god about his expected son. They duly carried out their commission, and an oracle was given forth that the child whom he had begotten would be the cause of great misfortunes to the Carthaginians and to all Sicily. 4 Learning this and being frightened, Carcinus exposed the infant in a public place and set men to watch him that he might die.8 After some days had passed the child had not died, and those who had been set to watch him began to be negligent. 5 At this time, then, the mother came secretly by night and took the child; and, although, fearing her husband, she did not bring him to her own home, she left him with her brother Heracleides and called him Agathocles, the name of her own father. 6 The boy was brought up in the home of Heracleides and became much fairer in face and stronger in body than was to be expected at his age. When the child was seven years old,9 Carcinus was invited by Heracleides to some festival and, seeing Agathocles playing with some children of his own age, wondered at his beauty and strength. On the woman's remarking that the child who had been exposed would have been of the same age if he had been brought up, he said that he regretted what he had done and began to weep incessantly. 7 Then she, seeing that the desire of the man was in harmony with her own past act, disclosed the entire truth. Gladly hearing her words, he accepted his son, but in fear of the Carthaginians removed to Syracuse with p233 his whole household. Since he was poor he taught Agathocles the trade of pottery while he was still a boy.
8 At this time Timoleon the Corinthian, after having defeated the Carthaginiansº in the battle at the Crimisus River, conferred Syracusan citizenship on all who wished.10 Carcinus was enrolled as a citizen together with Agathocles, and died after living only a short time longer. 9 The mother dedicated a stone image of her son in a certain precinct, and a swarm of bees settled upon it and built their honeycomb about its hips. When this prodigy was reported to those who devoted themselves to such matters, all of them declared that at the prime of his life the boy would attain great fame; and this prophecy was fulfilled.
3 1 A certain Damas, who was counted among the notable men of Syracuse, fell in love with Agathocles and since in the beginning he supplied him lavishly with everything, was the cause of his accumulating a suitable property;11 and thereafter, when Damas had been elected general against Acragas and one of his chiliarchs died, he appointed Agathocles in his place.12 2 Even before his military service Agathocles had been much respected on account of the great size of his armour, for in military reviews he was in the habit of wearing equipment so heavy that no one of the others was able to use it handily because of the p235 weight of the armour. When he became a chiliarch, he gained even more fame since he was venturesome and daring in battle and bold and ready in haranguing the people. When Damas died of illness and left his property to his wife, Agathocles married her and was counted among the richest men.
3 Thereafter when the people of Croton were being besieged by the Bruttii, the Syracusans sent a strong force to their aid.13 Antandrus, the brother of Agathocles, was one of the generals of this army, but the commanders of the whole were Heracleides and Sostratus,14 men who had spent the greater part of their lives in plots, murders, and great impieties; their careers in detail are contained in the Book before this one.15 4 Agathocles also took part in that campaign with them, having been recognized for his ability by the people and assigned to the rank of chiliarch. Although he had distinguished himself at first in the battles with the barbarians, he was deprived of the award for his deeds of valour by Sostratus and his friends because of jealousy. 5 Agathocles was deeply offended at them and denounced before the people their resolve to establish an autocratic government. As the people of Syracuse paid no attention to the charges, the cabal of Sostratus did gain control of their native city after the return from Croton.
4 1 Since Agathocles was hostile to them, he remained p237 at first in Italy with those who made common cause with him. Undertaking to establish himself in Croton,16 he was driven out and with a few others escaped to Tarentum. While among the Tarentines he was enrolled in the ranks of the mercenaries, and because he took part in many hazardous actions he was suspected of revolutionary designs. 2 When he for this reason was released from this army also, he gathered together the exiles from all parts of Italy and went to the aid of Rhegium, which was then being attacked by Heracleides and Sostratus. 3 Then when the cabal in Syracuse was brought to an end and the party of Sostratus was expelled, Agathocles returned to his own city. Many citizens of repute had been exiled along with the cabal on the ground that they had been members of the oligarchy of the Six Hundred Noblest,17 and now war arose between these exiles and those who were supporting the democracy. As the Carthaginians became allies of the exiles with Sostratus, there were constant engagements and pitched battles between strong forces, in which Agathocles, sometimes as a private soldier, sometimes appointed to a command, was credited with being energetic and ingenious, for in each emergency he contrived some helpful device. One instance of the kind is well worth mentioning. 4 Once when the Syracusans were in camp near Gela, he stole into the city at night with a thousand men, but Sostratus with a large force in battle array appeared p239 suddenly, routed those who had made their way in, and struck down about three hundred of them. 5 When the remainder tried to escape through a certain narrow passage and had abandoned hope of safety, Agathocles unexpectedly saved them from the danger. 6 Fighting most brilliantly of all, he had received seven wounds, and because of the quantity of blood he had lost, he was weak in body; but when the enemy were upon them, he ordered the trumpeters to go out to the walls on each side and sound the signal for battle. 7 When they quickly carried out the order, those who had sallied out from Gela to give aid were not able to learn the truth because of the darkness, but supposing that the remaining force of the Syracusans had broken in on both sides, they abandoned further pursuit, divided their forces into two parts, and went quickly to meet the danger, running toward the sound made by the trumpeters. In this situation Agathocles and his men gained a respite from fighting and came safe to their fortified camp in complete security. Thus on this occasion, by outwitting the enemy in this way, he not only saved his own companions by a miracle but also seven hundred of the allies.
5 1 Thereafter, at the time when Acestorides the Corinthian had been elected general in Syracuse,18 Agathocles was reputed to have made an attempt at tyranny, but he escaped from this danger by his own shrewdness. For Acestorides, who was wary of factional strife and therefore was not willing to destroy him openly, ordered him to leave the city and sent out men to kill him on the road during the night. p241 2 But Agathocles, who had shrewdly guessed the intention of the general, selected from his slaves the one who was most like himself in stature and face, and by equipping him with his own armour, horse, and even his own clothing, he deceived those who had been dispatched to kill him. 3 As for himself, he put on rags and by avoiding the roads completed the journey. They, supposing from the armour and the other indications that it was Agathocles and not observing more closely because of the darkness, accomplished a murder indeed, but failed to carry out the task that had been assigned to them.
4 Afterwards the Syracusans received back those who had been expelled with Sostratus and made peace with the Carthaginians; but Agathocles as an exile gathered together an army of his own in the interior. After he had become an object of dread not only to his own fellow citizens but also to the Carthaginians,19 he was persuaded to return to his own city; and at the shrine of Demeter, to which he was taken by the citizens, he swore that he would undertake nothing against the democracy. 5 And it was by pretending to be a supporter of democracy and by winning the favour of the people in artful ways that he secured his own election as general and protector of the peace until such time as real harmony might be established among the exiles who had returned to the city. 6 For it happened that the political clubs of those who were holding meetings were divided into many factions and that important differences of opinion existed among them; but the chief group opposed to Agathocles was the society of the Six Hundred,20 which had directed the city in p243 the time of the oligarchy; for the Syracusans who were first in reputation and in property had been enrolled in this society.
6 1 Agathocles, who was greedy for power, had many advantages for the accomplishment of his design. Not only as general was he in command of the army, but moreover, when news came that some rebels were assembling an army in the interior near Erbita, without rousing suspicion he obtained authority to enrol as soldiers what men he chose. 2 Thus by feigning a campaign against Erbita he enrolled in the army the men of Morgantina and the other cities of the interior who had previously served with him against the Carthaginians. 3 All these were very firmly attached to Agathocles, having received many benefits from him during the campaigns, but they were unceasingly hostile to the Six Hundred, who had been magistrates of the oligarchy in Syracuse, and hated the populace in general because they were forced to carry out its orders. These soldiers numbered about three thousand, being both by inclination and by deliberate choice most suitable tools for the overthrow of the democracy. To them he added those of the citizens who because of poverty and envy were hostile to the pretensions of the powerful. 4 As soon as he had everything ready, he ordered the soldiers to report at daybreak at the Timoleontium;21 and he himself summoned Peisarchus and Diocles, who were regarded as the leaders of the society of the Six Hundred, as if he wished to consult them on some matter p245 of common interest. When they had come bringing with them some forty of their friends, Agathocles, pretending that he himself was being plotted against, arrested all of them, accused them before the soldiers, saying that he was being seized by the Six Hundred because of his sympathy for the common people, and bewailed his fate. 5 When, however, the mob was aroused and with a shout urged him not to delay but to inflict the just penalty on the wrongdoers out of hand, he gave orders to the trumpeters to give the signal for battle and to the soldiers to kill the guilty persons and to plunder the property of the Six Hundred and their supporters. 6 All rushed out to take part in the plunder, and the city was filled with confusion and great calamity; for the members of the aristocratic class, not knowing the destruction that had been ordained for them, were dashing out of their homes into the streets in their eagerness to learn the cause of the tumult, and the soldiers, made savage both by greed and by anger, kept killing these men who, in their ignorance of the situation, were presenting their bodies bare of any arms that would protect them.
7 1 The narrow passages were severally occupied by soldiers, and the victims were murdered, some in the streets, some in their houses. Many, too, against whom there had been no charge whatever, were slain when they sought to learn the cause of the massacre. For the armed mob having seized power did not distinguish between friend and foe, but the man from whom it had concluded most profit was to be gained, him it regarded as an enemy. 2 Therefore one could see the whole city filled with outrage, slaughter, and p247 all manner of lawlessness. For some men because of long-existing hatred abstained from no form of insult against the objects of their enmity now that they had the opportunity to accomplish whatever seemed to gratify their rage; others, thinking by the slaughter of the wealthy to redress their own poverty, left no means untried for their destruction. 3 Some broke down the doors of houses, others mounted to the housetops on ladders, still others struggled against men who were defending themselves from the roofs; not even to those who fled into the temples did their prayers to the gods bring safety, but reverence due the gods was overthrown by men. 4 In time of peace and in their own city Greeks dared commit these crimes against Greeks, relatives against kinsfolk, respecting neither common humanity nor solemn compacts nor gods, crimes such that there is no one — I do not say no friend but not even any deadly enemy if he but have a spark of compassion in his soul — who would not pity the fate of the victims.
8 1 All the gates of the city were closed, and more than four thousand persons were slain on that day whose only crime was to be of gentler birth than the others. Of those who fled, some who rushed for the gates were arrested, while others who cast themselves from the walls escaped to the neighbouring cities; some, however, who in panic cast themselves down before they looked, crashed headlong to their doom. 2 The number of those who were driven from their native city was more than six thousand, most of whom fled to the people of Acragas where they were p249 accorded proper care. 3 The party of Agathocles spent the day in the murder of their fellow citizens, nor did they abstain from outrage and crime against women, but they thought that those who had escaped death would be sufficiently punished by the violation of their kindred. For it was reasonable to suppose that the husbands and fathers would suffer something worse than death when they thought of the violence done their wives and the shame inflicted upon their unmarried daughters. 4 We must keep our accounts of these events free from the artificially tragic tone that is habitual with historians, chiefly because of our pity for the victims, but also because no one of our readers has a desire to hear all the details when his own understanding can readily supply them. 5 For men who by day in the streets and throughout the market place were bold to butcher those who had done no harm need no writer to set forth what they did at night when by themselves in the homes, and how they conducted themselves toward orphaned maidens and toward women who were bereft of any to defend them and had fallen into the absolute power of their direst enemies. 6 As for Agathocles, when two days had passed, since he was now sated with the slaughter of his fellow citizens, after gathering together the prisoners, he let Deinocrates go because of their former friendship, but of the others he killed those who were most bitterly hostile and exiled the rest.
9 1 Next he called together the Assembly and accused the Six Hundred and the oligarchy that they had brought into existence, saying that he had cleansed the state of those men who were trying to become her masters; and he proclaimed that he was restoring liberty undefiled to the people, and that he p251 wished to be relieved at last of his burdens and become a private citizen on terms of equality with all. 2 As he said this, he tore off his military cloak and, assuming civil garb, set out to leave, showing that he himself was one of the many. But in doing this he was merely playing the part of a democrat with full knowledge that the majority of the members of the Assembly had had a share in his unholy acts and for this reason would not be willing to vote the generalship to anyone else. 3 At any rate, those who had plundered the property of the victims instantly cried out, begging him not to leave them but to accept the general administration of the state. At first he maintained silence; then, as the mob pressed more insistently upon him, he said that he accepted the generalship, but that he would not rule jointly with others, 4 for he would not consent as one member of a board to be held legally accountable for acts illegally committed by the others. Since the majority agreed that he should rule alone, he was elected general with absolute power,22 and thereafter he openly exercised authority and governed the city. 5 Of the Syracusans who were uncorrupted, some were forced to endure in patience because of their fears, and others, outmatched by the mob, did not venture to make an unavailing display of their hostility. On the other hand, many of those who were poor and involved in debt welcomed the revolution, for Agathocles promised in the Assembly both to abolish debts and to distribute land to the poor. 6 When he had finished with these matters, he made an end of further slaughter and punishment. With a complete change of humour he showed himself affable to the common p253 people and won no slight popularity by aiding many, by encouraging no small number with promises, and by currying favour from all by philanthropic words. 7 Although he possessed such power, he neither assumed a diadem, nor employed a bodyguard, nor affected a haughty demeanour, as is the custom of almost all tyrants. He kept a careful watch over the public revenues and over the preparation of armour and weapons, and he had warships constructed in addition to those already at hand. He also gained control of most of the regions and cities of the interior.
This, then, was the situation in Sicily.23
2 Chap. 75 is omitted: operations of Antigonus in Asia Minor, and of Cassander in Greece.
3 Cp. Aristotle, Politics, 1284A.
5 Libya is here a rather indefinite term applied to the region of Africa between Cyrenê and the possessions of Carthage. To say that Agathocles possessed the larger part even of this is an exaggeration.
7 Therma (called Thermae in Book 23.9.4, 20; both names seem to have been in use), the modern Termini, was founded as a Carthaginian colony in 407 (Book 13.79.8), but many of its settlers were Greeks from the near-by city of Himera, which had been razed two years before (Cicero, Against Verres, 188.8.131.52). How it again fell into Carthaginian control is not known.
10 This battle on the Crimissus (or Crimisus) River in western Sicily was fought in 341. The general grant of citizenship is placed after the battle by Diodorus (here and in Book 16.82.5), but some years before it by Plutarch (Timoleon, 23.2). If Plutarch is correct, Polybius (see preceding note) may have confused the arrival in Syracuse and the grant of citizenship.
13 About 325.
14 It is disputed whether this Heracleides is the uncle of Agathocles mentioned above (chap. 2.5). The identity is maintained by Lenschau (P.‑W., Realencyclopädie, 8.462, s.v. "Heracleides"), but tacitly denied by Niese (ibid. 1.749, s.v. "Agathocles") and by Cary (Cambridge Ancient History, 7.618‑619). The manuscripts of Diodorus support the spelling Sostratus for his colleague's name; but many modern authors call him Sosistratus.
16 At this time Croton was controlled by an oligarchy in sympathy with the Six Hundred at Syracuse. In spite of the failure related in the text, the democracy soon established itself, and in 317‑316 repulsed and then destroyed the forces of the oligarchy (cp. chaps. 3.3 and 10.3‑4).
17 This seems to have been a political coterie rather than a regular governing body (Cary, Cambridge Ancient History, 7.618).
22 In 317.
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