Timoleon (Greek: Τιμολέων), son of Timodemus, of Corinth (c. 411–337 BC) was a Greek statesman and general.
As a brilliant general, a champion of Greece against Carthage, and a fighter against despotism, he is closely connected with the history of Sicily, especially Syracuse, Magna Graecia.
Timoleon was a member of the Corinthian oligarchy.In the mid 360s BC, Timophanes, the brother of Timoleon, took possession of the acropolis of Corinth and effectively made himself tyrant of the city. In response, Timoleon, who had earlier heroically saved his brother's life in battle, and after repeatedly pleading with him to desist, became involved in the assassination of Timophanes. Most Corinthians approved his conduct as patriotic; however, the tragic occurrence, the actual fratricide, the curses of his mother, and the indignation of some of his fellow citizens, drove him into a self-imposed early withdrawal from politics and civic life for twenty years.
Because of inner strife, the depredations and decline in Syracuse caused by the despots Dionysius and his son who succeeded him, and because of the repeated conflicts with powerful Carthage, a group of Syracusans sent an appeal for help to Corinth, their mother city, which reached that city-state in 344 BC.Corinth agreed to help, but her chief citizens declined to accept the seemingly hopeless task of establishing a stable government in, tyrannical, fractious, insecure, and turbulent Syracuse.
Timoleon, being named by an unknown voice in the Corinthian popular assembly, was chosen by a unanimous vote to undertake the mission. He set sail for Sicily with seven ships, a few of the leading citizens of Corinth, and a small force of 700 Greek mercenaries.He eluded a Carthaginian squadron by an ingenious stratagem and landed at Tauromenium (now Taormina) in 344 BC, where he met with a friendly reception. At this time Hicetas, tyrant of Leontini, was master of Syracuse, with the exception of the island of Ortygia, which was occupied by Dionysius II, still nominally ruler.
Hicetas was defeated by Timoleon at Adranum, an inland town, and driven back to Syracuse. After his initial, unexpected success, Timoleon was sent reinforcements from Corinth and some north-western Greek states.Following the siege of Syracuse, Dionysius II surrendered Ortygia in 343 BC on the condition of his being granted a safe conduct to Corinth, where he ended his life as a private, well-off, citizen.
Hicetas now received help from Carthage (60,000 men), but ill-success roused mutual suspicion; the Carthaginians abandoned Hicetas, who was besieged in Leontini, and who was then compelled to surrender. Timoleon was thus master of Syracuse.
He at once began the work of restoration, beginning with the symbolic act of destroying the citadel constructed and used by the tyrants to oppress the people of Syracuse, and replacing it with a court house. He brought new settlers to depopulated Sicily from all over Greece, and re-established a popular government on the basis of the democratic laws of Diocles. The amphipolos, or priest of Olympian Zeus (ἀμφίπολος Διὸς Ὀλυμπίου), who was chosen annually by lot out of three clans, was invested with the chief magistracy. The impress of Timoleon's reforms seems to have lasted to the days of Augustus.
Hicetas persuaded Carthage to send (340–339 BC) a great army (70,000 men), which landed at Lilybaeum (now Marsala). With a miscellaneous levy of about 12,000 men, most of them mercenaries, Timoleon marched westwards across the island to the neighbourhood of Selinus. Against all odds, after being deserted by a part of his army who believed that facing a foe six times as large as their own was hopeless, Timoleon, at the head of his infantry, won a great and decisive victory on the Crimissus. His victory was made possible by the fact that the Carthaginian army had not yet completed the river crossing so his small force only had to fight the elite part of the Carthaginian force. He was also aided by a violent storm at the backs of his troops but blinding to the Carthaginians.
Later, Carthage dispatched mercenaries to prolong the conflict between Timoleon and the Greek tyrants. But this ended in the defeat of Hicetas, who was taken prisoner and put to death. A treaty in 338 BC was agreed upon, by which Carthage was confined in Sicily to the west of the Halycus (Platani) and undertook to give no further help to Sicilian tyrants. Most of the remaining tyrants were killed or expelled.This treaty gave the Greeks of Sicily many years of peace, restored prosperity, rule of law, and safety from Carthage.
Timoleon established a new Syracusan constitution. It was described at the time as democratic. However, for a short time he did have wide powers equivalent to a supreme commander. He invited settlers from mainland Greece to assist in the re-population of Syracuse and other Sicilian cities. During this period, Greek Sicily enjoyed a recovery in its economy and culture.
Timoleon retired into private life shortly after the goals he set out to accomplish were met. He remained however almost universally admired for his brilliant victories, moderation, and the restoration of democracy after half a century of tyranny, suffering, near economic collapse, turmoil, and depopulation. However, even after his retirement, so great was the esteem of his countrymen, that when important issues were under discussion, the by-now blind Timoleon was carried to the assembly to give his opinion, which was usually accepted.He was buried at the cost of the citizens of Syracuse, who erected a monument to his memory in their market-place, afterwards surrounded with porticoes, and a gymnasium called Timoleonteum.
The ancient historian Timaeus gave Timoleon high accolades in his work. However, Polybius, a historian with decided oligarchic sympathies, criticized Timaeus for bias in favour of Timoleon and many modern historians have sided with Polybius.Peter Green shares this scepticism but thinks it has gone too far. While he concedes that Timoleon tended to play the democrat while using the methods of a tyrant (albeit benevolently), he notes that Timoleon did make an effort to maintain the outward forms of democracy. Further, he reformed Syracuse in a democratic direction and demolished the stronghold of the island that had been so useful to tyrants in the past.
Timoleon's personal conduct throughout his life suggests a commitment to freedom and the rule of law. For instance, when taken to court on spurious grounds, he refused to be exempted, saying that this was the "precise purpose for which he had so long laboured and combated—in order that every Syracusan citizen might be enabled to appeal to the laws and exercise freely his legal rights."
The historian George Grote wholeheartedly agrees with the following appraisal, given by a citizen of Syracuse at Timoleon's funeral, about three years after the Crimissus victory:
The Syracusan people solemnise, at the cost of 200 minae, the funeral of this man . . .They have passed a vote to honour him for all future time. . .,—because, after having put down the despots, subdued the foreign enemy, and re-colonised the greatest among the ruined cities, he restored to the Sicilian Greeks their constitution and laws.
Syracuse is a historic city on the Italian island of Sicily, the capital of the Italian province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek and Roman history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace and home of the pre-eminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world. Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, next to the Gulf of Syracuse beside the Ionian Sea. It is situated in a drastic rise of land with 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) depths being close to the city offshore although the city itself is generally not so hilly in comparison.
This article concerns the period 349 BC – 340 BC.
Year 338 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Camillus and Maenius. The denomination 338 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Year 344 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Rutilus and Torquatus. The denomination 344 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
The Battle of the Crimissus was fought in 339 BC between a large Carthaginian army commanded by Asdrubal and Hamilcar and an army from Syracuse led by Timoleon. Timoleon attacked the Carthaginian army by surprise near the Crimissus river in western Sicily and won a great victory. When he defeated another much smaller force of Carthaginians shortly afterwards, Carthage sued for peace. The peace allowed the Greek cities on Sicily to recover and began a period of stability. However, another war between Syracuse and Carthage erupted after Timoleon's death, not long after Agathocles seized power in 317 BC.
The siege of Syracuse in 397 BC was the first of four unsuccessful sieges Carthaginian forces would undertake against Syracuse from 397 to 278 BC. In retaliation for the siege of Motya by Dionysius of Syracuse, Himilco of the Magonid family of Carthage led a substantial force to Sicily. After retaking Motya and founding Lilybaeum, Himilco sacked Messana, then laid siege to Syracuse in the autumn of 397 BC after the Greek navy was crushed at Catana.
The Sicilian Wars, or Greco-Punic Wars, were a series of conflicts fought between ancient Carthage and the Greek city-states led by Syracuse, Sicily over control of Sicily and the western Mediterranean between 580 and 265 BC.
Hicetas was a Syracusan general and tyrant of Leontini, Magna Graecia, contemporary with the younger Dionysius and Timoleon.
The Battle of Gela took place in the summer of 405 BC in Sicily. The Carthaginian army under Himilco, which had spent the winter and spring in the captured city of Akragas, marched to confront the Greeks at Gela. The Syracuse government had deposed Daphnaeus, the unsuccessful general of the Greek army at Akragas, with Dionysius, another officer who had been a follower of Hermocrates. Dionysius schemed and gained full dictatorial powers.
The siege of Motya took place either in 398 or 397 BC in western Sicily. Dionysius, after securing peace with Carthage in 405 BC, had steadily increased his military power and had tightened his grip on Syracuse. He had fortified Syracuse against sieges and had created a large army of mercenaries and a large fleet, in addition to employing the catapult and quinqueremes for the first time in history. In 398 BC, he attacked and sacked the Phoenician city of Motya despite the Carthaginian relief effort led by Himilco. Carthage also lost most of her territorial gains secured in 405 BC after Dionysius declared war on Carthage in 398 BC.
The Battle of Catana took place in the summer of 397 BC. The Greek fleet under Leptines, the brother of Dionysius I of Syracuse, engaged the Carthaginian fleet under Mago near the city of Catana in Sicily. While the Greek army under Dionysius was present near the city of Catana during the battle, the Carthaginian army under Himilco was away in the interior of Sicily, making a detour around the erupting Mount Etna. The Carthaginian fleet crushed the Greek fleet in the battle, leading to the Carthaginian siege of Syracuse later in 397 BC.
Dion, tyrant of Syracuse in Magna Graecia, was the son of Hipparinus, and brother-in-law of Dionysius I of Syracuse. A disciple of Plato, he became Dionysius I's most trusted minister and adviser. However, his great wealth, his belief in Platonism and his ambition aroused the suspicions of Dionysius I's son and successor, Dionysius II. An indiscreet letter from Dion to the Carthaginians led to his banishment. Settling in Athens, he lived a prosperous life until Dionysius II dispossessed him of his estates and income. Landing in Sicily in 357 BC, he was successful in conquering Syracuse. However, Dion soon quarrelled with the radical leader Heraclides and was forced into exile. Recalled in 355 BC, he became master of the whole city but alienated the population with his imperious behaviour and financial demands. His supporters abandoned him, and he was assassinated. Dion's attempts to liberate Sicily only brought the island political and social chaos which lasted for nearly 20 years.
The Battle of Abacaenum took place between the Carthaginian forces under Mago and the Siceliot army under Dionysius in 393 BC near the Sicilian town on Abacaenum in north-eastern Sicily. Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, had been expanding his influence over Sicels' territories in Sicily. After Dionysius' unsuccessful siege in 394 BC of Tauromenium, a Carthaginian ally, Mago decided to attack Messana. However, the Carthaginian army was defeated by the Greeks near the town of Abacaenum and had to retire to the Carthaginian territories in Western Sicily. Dionysius did not attack the Carthaginians but continued to expand his influence in eastern Sicily.
The Battle of Chrysas was a battle fought in 392 BC in the course of the Sicilian Wars, between the Carthaginian army under Mago and a Greek army under Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse, who was aided by Agyris, tyrant of the Sicel city of Agyrium. Mago had been defeated by Dionysius at Abacaenum in 393, which had not damaged the Carthaginian position in Sicily. Reinforced by Carthage in 392, Mago moved to attack the Sicles allied with Syracuse in central Sicily. After the Carthaginians reached and encamped near the river Chrysas, the Sicels harassed the Carthaginian supply lines causing a supply shortage, while the Greek soldiers rebelled and deserted Dionysius when he refused to fight a pitched battle. Both Mago and Dionysius agreed to a peace treaty, which allowed the Carthaginians to formally occupy the area west of the River Halycus, while Dionysius was given lordship over the Sicel lands. The peace would last until 383, when Dionysius attacked the Carthaginians again.
The siege of Tauromenium was laid down by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, in the winter of 394 BC, in the course of the Sicilian Wars against Carthage. After defeating the Carthaginians at the Battle of Syracuse in 397 BC, Dionysius had been expanding his territory and political influence by conquering Sicel lands and planting Greek colonies in northeastern Sicily. Tauromenium was a Sicel city allied to Carthage and in a position to threaten both Syracuse and Messina. Dionysius laid siege to the city in the winter of 394 BC, but had to lift the siege after his night assault was defeated. Carthage responded to this attack on their allies by renewing the war, which was ended by a peace treaty in 392 BC that granted Dionysius overlordship of the Sicels, while Carthage retained all territory west of the Halykos and Himera rivers in Sicily.
The siege of Segesta took place either in the summer of 398 BC or the spring of 397 BC. Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, after securing peace with Carthage in 405 BC, had steadily increased his military power and tightened his grip on Syracuse. He had fortified Syracuse against sieges and had created a large army of mercenaries and a large fleet, in addition to employing catapults and quinqueremes for the first time in history. In 398 BC he attacked and sacked the Phoenician city of Motya despite a Carthaginian relief effort led by Himilco II of Carthage. While Motya was under siege, Dionysius besieged and assaulted Segesta unsuccessfully. Following the sack of Motya, Segesta again came under siege by Greek forces, but the Elymian forces based in Segesta managed to inflict damage on the Greek camp in a daring night assault. When Himilco of Carthage arrived in Sicily with the Carthaginian army in the spring of 397 BC, Dionysius withdrew to Syracuse. The failure of Dionysius to secure a base in western Sicily meant the main events of the Second Sicilian war would be acted out mostly in eastern Sicily, sparing the Elymian and Phoenician cities the ravages of war until 368 BC.
The siege and subsequent sacking of Camarina transpired in 405 BC, during the Sicilian Wars.
The siege of Syracuse from 344 to 343/342 BC was part of a war between the Syracusan general Hicetas and the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius II. The conflict became more complex when Carthage and Corinth became involved. The Carthaginians had made an alliance with Hicetas to expand their power in Sicily. Somewhat later, the Corinthian general Timoleon arrived in Sicily to restore democracy to Syracuse. With the assistance of several other Sicilian Greek cities, Timoleon emerged victorious and reinstated a democratic regime in Syracuse. The siege is described by the ancient historians Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch, but there are important differences in their accounts.
Mamercus was tyrant of the Greek city of Catane, Magna Graecia, at the time when Timoleon landed in Sicily 344 BC until 338 BC. He was regarded by Plutarch as a warlike and wealthy man.
The history of Greek and Hellenistic Sicily began with the foundation of the first colonies around the mid 8th century BC. The Greeks of Sicily were known as Siceliotes.