The history of Syracuse

   The Greek colony

Syracuse was a colony of Corinth, it was the most important Greek colony on Sicily. Syracuse kept its links with Greece throughout the period covered. As a result Greece mercenaries were widely used and generals from Greece were also a feature of Syracuse's forces.

During this period there were four main causes of wars: Carthaginian expansion, Roman expansion, rivalry with other colonies and civil wars. The last was usually as a result of the first two. The reason for that was the citizens would appoint a dictator to run things and organise their defence. The dictators would often stage a coup and become tyrants. The citizens would then stage a rebellion to try and restore democracy. Notable tyrants were Agathokles, Dionysios and Hieron.

Until the end of the first Punic war, however, Syracuse spent most of its time fighting off Carthaginian expansion in Sicily.

Syracuse also imported Greek generals. The most famous was Timoleon who helped rid Syracuse of Dionysius the second and then defeated Carthage. Another Greek general invited to Sicily to defend the Greeks from the Carthaginians was Pyrrhus who was there from 277 to 275 BC.

During the first Punic war Syracuse supported Carthage at first but quickly changed allegiance to Rome. During the second Punic war they supported Carthage and ended up being besieged and captured by the Romans.

   Hiero II

HIERO (or Hieron) was born around 306 BC of unknown lineage. He served as an officer under Pyrrhos, a Greek adventurer who briefly controlled Syracuse c. 278-276 BC. Hiero's ascent to power began when he was elected co-commander of Syracusan armed forces driven from Syracuse by civil authorities. He executed a military coup of Syracuse about 275 BC after "he used some of his family connections to gain entry to the city," as Polybius writes. He consolidated his power by marrying Philistis, the daughter of a popular and influential Syracusan named Leptines. When veteran mercenaries who helped him seize power became unruly and disruptive, he led them into a battle in which they were cut to pieces by the enemy after he held back his reserves of Syracusan citizens.

From 278 to 275 BC he fought under Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, against the Roman invaders of Sicily, and after the departure of Pyrrhus in 275 BC he was chosen commander of the Syracusan army. Hiero's military successes against the Mamertines, a gang of Italic mercenaries who ran a pirate empire from the Sicilian city of Messana which they had captured. in 270 BC resulted in his election as tyrant by the grateful citizens of Syracuse.

In 265 BC Hiero won a further decisive victory over the Mamertines As a result, Hiero was proclaimed King of Syracuse by his grateful subjects.

Hiero's defeat of the Mamertines upset the delicate balance of power among the Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians, all of whom sought the control of Sicily. Rome's support of the defeated Mamertines precipitated the First Punic War in 264 BC, in which Carthage and Syracuse were initially allied against Rome. The Romans gained early victories over the Greco-Punic forces and prepared to lay siege to Syracuse. Hiero reconsidered his position and decided that it would be wiser to be an ally of Rome than of Carthage. He negotiated a treaty with Rome in 263 BC under whose terms he agreed to pay tribute and provide supplies and grain to the Romans. Hiero honored this treaty the rest of his life and became a loyal ally of Rome. The treaty guaranteed him a peaceful and prosperous reign as long as the Romans and Carthaginians were occupied in fighting each other.

Hiero was an extremely able leader who captured the hearts and minds of his subjects. He rebuilt much of Syracuse during his reign of sixty years. Among his public works still remaining are an enormous sacrificial altar dedicated to Zeus and an enlarged Greek Theater. He also strengthened the defenses of Syracuse, especially Fort Euryalos, under the military guidance of Archimedes.

Plutarch describes Archimedes as a near relation of Hiero. He constantly sought Archimedes' advice on military and other matters. His long reign gave Archimedes the opportunity to peacefully pursue his studies.

Hiero and Philistis had one son, Gelo, and two daughters, Damarata and Heraclia. Gelo co-ruled with Hiero for many years and married Nereis, a daughter of Hiero's old mentor Pyrrhos. Gelo died about a year before Hiero while in his fifties. Hiero died in 215 BC at about the age of ninety and was succeeded by Gelo's fifteen-year-old son Hieronymos.

After Hiero came the deluge. Within three years of his death his grandson Hieronymos was assassinated, his two daughters and other members of his family were put to death by an angry mob, Syracuse was captured and looted by the Romans, and Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier. Syracuse was reduced to a minor Roman provincial town, ending its illustrious 500-year history as an independent Greek city-state. It never regained its former glory.



Tyrant of Syracuse, in Sicily, from 317 to c. 304 and self-styled king of Sicily after c. 304. A champion of Hellenism, he waged war unsuccessfully against Carthage.

The son of a potter who had moved from his native town, Thermae Himerenses (now Termini Imerese), Sicily, to Syracuse about 343. He learned his father's trade, but afterwards entered the army and served with distinction in the army. In 333 he married the widow of his patron Damas, a distinguished and wealthy citizen.

In 334 BC Alexander of Epirus had attacked Lucanian, Bruttian, and Samnite raiders in Italy, where he was killed by a Lucanian exile.

In Greek Sicily the Syracusan constitution of Timoleon had been overthrown by an oligarchy of 600. Syracuse sent a force to help Crotona fight off the Bruttians. The strong Agathocles fought bravely, and resenting not being honored, he organized his own force and tried twice to seize the government of Syracuse. He was twice banished for attempting to overthrow the oligarchical party in Syracuse. By dressing as a beggar Agathocles escaped assassination, but supported by Carthaginians he was appointed a general in Syracuse by the 600. In 317 he returned with an army of mercenaries under a solemn oath to observe the democratic constitution which was then set up. Having banished or murdered some 10,000 citizens, he made himself master of Syracuse and created a strong army and fleet and subdued the greater part of Sicily.

In 317 BC his soldiers murdered forty senators, then ravaged the city killing 4,000, as 6,000 fled or were expelled. Calling an assembly, Agathocles would only agree to lead if the city gave him dictatorial power. He promised abolition of debts and land distribution; he then expanded Syracusan territory by force of arms. Agathocles then embarked on a long series of wars. His first campaigns (316-c. 313), against the other Sicilian Greeks, brought a number of cities, including Messana, under his control. Carthage, however, fearing for its own possessions in Sicily, sent a large force to the island. Thus the struggle that had gone on between the Sicilian Greeks and Carthage intermittently since the 6th century was renewed. Syracusan exiles appealed to Spartan king Cleomenes, who sent his son Acrotatus; but when Agathocles killed exile leader Sosistratus at a banquet, Acrotatus fled.

A peace mediated by Carthaginian general Hamilcar divided hegemony in Sicily between Agathocles and the Carthaginians although the Greek cities were supposed to be autonomous. Messena stood outside, but Agathocles managed to kill 600 of those who opposed him there and at Taormina. When he besieged Agrigentum, Deinocrates and the exiles turned to Carthage, which captured twenty of his ships. So Agathocles marched into Gela and massacred 4,000 people.

At the Himera River he lost 7,000 to the Carthaginian cavalry and from thirsty men drinking salt water.

Besieged at Syracuse in 310 BC Agathocles took the desperate resolve of breaking through the blockade and attacking his enemy's homelands in Africa. He managed to steal enough money from the 1600 wealthiest citizens he had slaughtered, women's jewelry, and temples to take sixty ships filled with soldiers across to be the first Europeans to attack Carthage. In a sacrifice to Demeter and Persephone he burned his ships before taking a large city and fortifying Tunis. The Carthaginian army was defeated and driven back to Carthage in 310. Believing their loss was because they had been cheating on their child sacrifices, it was said the Carthaginians killed 500 children to expiate their guilt.

Meanwhile Agathocles' brother Antander defeated the Carthaginian attack on Syracuse led by Hamilcar, who was captured and killed. The Agrigentines led by Xenodocus expelled garrisons and liberated Sicilian towns. When a mutiny broke out in Tunis, Agathocles' threatening suicide got himself reinstated as general. After the Syracusans and Carthaginians fought each other while the Libyans watched, Agathocles appealed to Ptolemy's viceroy in Cyrene Ophellas, whom Agathocles then killed, taking over the army he brought, shipping out to Syracuse the colonists Ophellas had raised from Athens. At the same time the Carthaginians were being betrayed by their general Bomilcar. Like Alexander's successors, Agathocles declared himself king; then he attacked Utica by using its leading 300 citizens as shields for his siege engines.

After several victories he was at last completely defeated (307) and fled secretly to Sicily. The peace he concluded in 306 was not unfavourable, for it restricted Carthaginian power in Sicily to the area west of the Halycus (Platani) River. Agathocles continued to strengthen his rule over the Greek cities of Sicily.

Agathocles crossed back to Sicily, and two-thirds of the army led by his son in Libya was destroyed.

His generals defeated the Agrigentines, but the autonomy movement was revived by Agathocles' old friend Deinocrates, who raised an army of 20,000.

Agathocles went back to Tunis, where the situation became so desperate he tried to escape secretly but was arrested. Eventually he escaped back to Sicily; his sons left in Libya were killed, as his soldiers capitulated to the Carthaginians; commanders who did not were crucified, while their men were enslaved.

In Sicily Agathocles sent for his army, which massacred and plundered Egesta. Unable to agree with Deinocrates, Agathocles made a deal with the Carthaginians, defeated the forces of Deinocrates, and regained control of Syracuse.

By c. 304 he felt secure enough to assume the title king of Sicily, and he extended his influence into southern Italy and the Adriatic. Later he formed an alliance with Ptolemy I of Egypt. Agathocles led military expeditions in Italy and took the island of Corcyra (now Kérkira, in the Adriatic Sea) away from Cassander's Macedonians in 298 BC and then had 2,000 Ligurians and Etruscans killed for mutinously demanding their pay.

Agathocles' reign as king was peaceful, allowing him to enrich Syracuse with many public buildings. He was a born leader of mercenaries, and, although he did not shrink from cruelty to gain his ends, he afterwards showed himself a mild and popular "tyrant." Dissent among his family about the succession, however, caused him in his will to restore liberty to the Syracusan. Even in his old age he displayed the same restless energy, and is said to have been meditating a fresh attack on Carthage at the time of his death. His last years were harassed by ill-health and the turbulence of his grandson Archagathus, at whose instigation he is said to have been poisoned at age 72 in 289 BC; according to others, he died a natural death. His death was followed by a recrudescence of Carthaginian power in Sicily.


   Athens and Syracuse at war

The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian expedition to Sicily from 415 BC to 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War. It was an unmitigated disaster for the Athenian forces. As Thucydides recounts wryly in his History of the Peloponnesian War, the generals leading the campaign had scant knowledge of Sicily, or of its population, and thus the forces marshaled for its conquering were woefully inadequate.

Appeal from Segesta The first phase of the Peloponnesian War had ended with the Peace of Nicias in 421 BC, and Athens and Sparta were nominally at peace in 415. That year, ambassadors from Segesta, a city in Sicily, were sent to Athens to request for help in their war against Selinute. The Segestans brought to Athens enough money to pay for sixty ships for one month. The Athenians had sent fleets to Sicily earlier in the war, and were attracted to the island's wealth in grain and other resources; by helping Segesta, they felt they could gain a foothold in Sicily which could lead to an eventual conquest. When Pericles was alive, he advised Athens not to overextend their empire, but now this advice was ignored.

The Debate Nicias, Alcibiades, and Lamachus were chosen to lead the expedition, although Nicias had no interest in leading it. Five days after they were chosen, there was a debate in the assembly, between Nicias and those against the expedition, and those who supported it, led by Alcibiades. Nicias argued they should not be dragged into a war that did not involve them, and that Athens should not feel so secure despite the peace treaty he had set up only a few years before. Sparta was still their enemy, and they could not afford to waste time and men fighting a far-away war while their own enemies were so close to them. Even if they did somehow conquer Sicily, which Nicias felt was the underlying point of the expedition, it would be impossible to govern. Athens' own weaker and poorer allies continually revolted against them, and they were much closer. The Sicilians, he said, would be more fearful of Athens if Athens was not tested in battle, just as Athens had been more fearful of Sparta before they were able to defeat the Spartans in war. Finally, he hoped his fellow citizens would not be persuaded by the young and arrogant Alcibiades, whom he felt was only looking for personal glory.

Other speeches were made, most mostly in favour of the expedition, before Alcibiades responded to Nicias. After defending his youth and arrogance, he claimed the situation was similar to Athens fighting Persia while they had enemies closer to home. Their victory over Persia had led to Athenian glory and the foundation of the Delian League, and this expedition would bring them the same results. The expedition would also help keep Athens active in a time of peace, so that they would be ready for future Spartan attacks.

Nicias then made a second speech. He said Athens would need a much bigger fleet and army to accomplish their goal, far more than the sixty ships that Segesta offered to equip. He hoped the Athenians would begin to have doubts when they realized this, but instead, they became even more enthusiastic. Nicias reluctantly suggested that they set out with at least 100 triremes and 5000 hoplites, plus thousands more light troops and other supplies.

Destruction of the Hermai After lengthy preparations, the fleet was ready to sail. The night before they were to leave, someone destroyed many of the hermai - the stone markers representing Hermes placed around the city for good luck. This was considered a bad omen for the expedition. In the ensuing investigation, some political enemies of Alcibiades claimed he was responsible, although there was no proof of this and Alcibiades volunteered to be put on trial under penalty of death in order to prove his innocence. However, Alcibiades was otherwise extremely popular and had the support of the entire army; he had also gained the support of Argos and Mantinea during the preparations. He was not charged, and the fleet sailed the next day. It was the largest military expedition ever produced by any Greek state, up to that point.

Reaction in Syracuse Many people in Syracuse, the richest and most powerful city of Sicily, felt that the Athenians were in fact coming to attack them, under the pretense of aiding Segesta in a minor war. The Syracusan general Hermocrates suggested that they ask for help from other Sicilian cities, and from Carthage. He also wanted to meet the Athenian fleet in the Ionian Sea before they arrived. Others argued that Athens was no threat to Syracuse, and some people did not believe there was a fleet at all, because Athens would not be so foolish as to attack them while they were still at war with Sparta. Athenagoras accused Hermocrates and others of attempting to instill fear among the population and trying to overthrow the government.

Athenian landing The Athenian fleet first sailed to Corcyra to meet up with their allies, and the ships were divided into three sections, one for each commander. Three of the ships were sent ahead to look for allies in Sicily. The fleet at this point consisted of 134 triremes (100 of which were from Athens), 5100 hoplites (2200 Athenians), 480 archers, 700 slingers, 120 other light troops, and 30 cavalry, as well as 130 other supply ships and all the crews of the triremes and other non-combatants.

They had little luck finding allies along the coast of southern Italy, and when the three other ships returned they learned that Segesta did not have the money they promised. Nicias had expected this but the other commanders were dismayed. Nicias suggested they make a show of force and then return home, while Alcibiades said they should encourage revolts against Syracuse, and then attack Syracuse and Selinute. Lamachus said they should attack Syracuse right away. The fleet proceeded to Catana, where an Athenian ship arrived to inform Alcibiades that he was under arrest, not only for the destruction of the hermai, but also for supposedly profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries. Alcibiades agreed to return, but on the way back his ship escaped to the Peloponnese, where he eventually sought refuge in Sparta; a death sentence was passed in absentia, his guilt seemingly proven.

The fleet was redivided into two parts, and the army was landed and joined with the cavalry of Segesta. However, they did not immediately attack Syracuse, and that winter as the Athenians made their camp at Catana, the Syracusans prepared to attack. When the Syracusans marched out to Catana, they learned that the Athenians had actually reboarded their ships and sailed into the harbour at Syracuse. The Syracusans quickly hurried back and prepared for battle.

First Battle of Syracuse The Athenian troops landed outside Syracuse, and lined up eight men deep with the Argives and Mantineans on the right, the rest of the allies on the left, and the Athenians themselves in the centre. The Syracusan line was sixteen men deep, and they had 1200 cavalry, vastly outnumbering the Athenian cavalry, although the numbers of men were about the same. The Athenians attacked first, believing themselves to be the stronger and more experienced army, and after some unexpectedly strong resistance, the Argives pushed back the Syracusan left wing, causing the rest to flee. The Syracusan cavalry prevented the Athenians from chasing them, but the Syracusans lost about 260 men, and the Athenians about fifty. The Athenians then sailed back to Catana for the winter.

Winter of 415/Spring of 414 BC Hermocrates suggested that the Syracusans reorganize their army. He wanted to reduce the number of generals from fifteen to three - Hermocrates, Heraclides, and Sicanus were elected and Hermocrates sent for help from Corinth and Sparta. During the winter the Athenians also sent for more money and cavalry, while the Syracusans built some forts, and a wall extending the territory of the city.

Meanwhile, Hermocrates and Euphemus, the archon of Athens, both went to Camarina to attempt to form an alliance with that city. Hermocrates wanted Camarina and the other cities to unite with Syracuse against Athens, but Euphemus said Syracuse only wanted to rule Camarina, and they should join with Athens if they wanted to remain free. The Camarinans decided not to join either side.

Athens then sent for help from the Carthaginians and Etruscans, and both Athens and Syracuse tried to gain assistance from the Greek cities in Italy. In Corinth, representatives from Syracuse met with Alcibiades, who was now allied with Sparta. Alcibiades informed Sparta that there would be an invasion of the Peloponnese if Sicily was conquered, and that they should send help to Syracuse and also fortify Decelea near Athens. The Athenians, he said, feared nothing more than the occupation of Decelea. The Spartans took this advice into consideration, and appointed Gylippus to command their fleet.

In the spring of 414 BC, reinforcements arrived from Athens, consisting of 250 cavalry, 30 mounted archers, and 300 talents of silver (around $180,000), which they used to pay for 400 more cavalry from their Sicilian allies. In the summer they landed on the Epipolae, the cliff above Syracuse, which was defended by Diomilus and 600 Syracusans. In the attack, Diomilus and 300 of his men were killed.

Both sides then began building a series of walls. The Athenian wall, known as "the Circle", was meant to blockade Syracuse from the rest of the island, while the Syracusans built a number of counter-walls from the city to their various forts. A force of 300 Athenians destroyed part of the first counter-wall, but the Syracusans began to build another one, this time with a ditch, blocking the Athenians from extending their wall to the sea. Another 300 Athenians attacked this wall and captured it, but were driven off by a Syracusan counter-attack in which Lamachus was killed. The Syracusans destroyed 1000 feet of the Athenian wall, but could not destroy the Circle, which was defended by Nicias. After Nicias defeated the attack, the Athenians finally extended their wall to the sea, completely blockading Syracuse by land, and their fleet entered the harbour to blockade them from sea. The Syracusans reponded by removing Hermocrates and Sicanus as generals and replacing them with Heraclides, Eucles, and Tellias.

Spartan intervention Soon after this, Gylippus landed at Himera, and with 700 marines, 100 hoplites, 100 cavalry, and 1000 Sicilians marched towards Syracuse. They built another counter-wall on the Epipolae, but were driven back by the Athenians; in a second battle, however, Gylippus defeated the Athenians, and the Syracusans completed their counter-wall, making the Athenian wall useless. The Corinthian fleet also arrived, under the command of Erasinides.

Nicias now believed it would be impossible to capture Syracuse. He wrote a letter to Athens, not trusting messengers to give an accurate report, and suggested that they either recall the expedition or send out massive reinforcements. He hoped they would choose to recall him, if not the whole expedition, but instead they chose to send reinforcements, under Demosthenes and Eurymedon. Eurymedon left immediately with ten ships, and Demosthenes left sometime later with a much larger force. Meanwhile, in early 413 BC Sparta acted on Alcibiades' advice and fortified Decelea, and the force sent to relieve it was destroyed.

While Eurymedon was sailing, Gylippus had eighty Syracusan ships, including thirty-five triremes, attack sixty of the Athenian ships (twenty-five of which were triremes) in the harbour. Gylippus commanded a simultaneous attack on the Athenian land forces. In the harbour, the Athenians were successful, losing only three ships while the Syracusans lost eleven. However, Gylippus defeated the Athenians on land and captured two Athenian forts. Afterwards Gylippus succeeded in convincing all the neutral cities on Sicily to join him, but the allies of Athens killed 800 Corinthians, including all but one of the Corinthian ambassadors.

Demosthenes' arrival Demosthenes and Eurymedon then arrived with seventy-three ships and 5000 hoplites. On their arrival, eighty Syracusan ships attacked seventy-five of the Athenian ships in their harbour. This battle went on for two days with no result, until the Syracusans pretended to back away and attacked the Athenians while they were eating. However, only seven Athenian ships were sunk.

Demosthenes landed his forces and attacked the Syracusan counter-wall on Epipolae. He succeeded in breaching the wall, but was defeated by a force of Boeotians in the Spartan contingent. Many Athenians fell off the cliff to their death, and some of the rest were killed as they fled down the slope.

Demosthenes' arrival was not much of a relief to the other Athenians. Their camp was located near a marsh and many of them had fallen ill, including Nicias. Seeing this, Demosthenes thought they should all return to Athens, and defend Attica against the Spartan invasion that had taken Decelea. Nicias, who had opposed the expedition at first, now did not want to show any weakness either to the Syracusans and Spartans, or to the Athenians at home who would likely put him on trial for failing to conquer the island. He hoped the Syracusans would soon run out of money, and he had also been informed that there were pro-Athenian factions in Syracuse who were ready to turn the city over to him. Demosthenes and Eurymedon reluctantly agreed that Nicias might be right, but when reinforcements from the Peloponnese arrived, Nicias agreed that they should leave.

Second Battle of Syracuse Just as the Athenians were preparing to sail home, there was a lunar eclipse, and Nicias, described by Thucydides as a particularly superstitious man, asked the priests what he should do. They suggested the Athenians wait for another twenty-seven days, and Nicias agreed. The Syracusans took advantage of this, and seventy-six of their ships attacked eighty-six Athenian ships in the harbour. The Athenians were defeated and Eurymedon was killed. Many of the ships were pushed on to the shore, where Gylippus was waiting. He killed some of the crews and captured eighteen beached ships, but a force of Athenians and Etruscans forced Gylippus back.

The Athenians were now in a desperate situation. On September 3, the Syracusans began to completely blockade the entrance to the port, trapping the Athenians inside. Outside Syracuse, the Athenians built a smaller walled enclosure for their sick and injured, and put everyone else (including many of the soldiers remaining on land) on their ships for one last battle, on September 9. The fleet was now commanded by Demosthenes, Menander, and Euthydemus, while the Syracusan fleet was led by Sicanus and Agatharchus on the wings and Pythen from Corinth in the centre. Each side had about 100 ships participating.

The Athenian ships were extremely cramped and had no room to manoeuvre. Collisions were frequent, and the Syracusans could easily ram the Athenian ships head-on, without the Athenians being able to move to ram them broadside, as they preferred. Javelin-throwers and archers shot from each ship, but the Syracusans deflected Athenian grappling hooks by covering their decks with animal hides.

The battle went on for some time with no clear victor, but the Syracusans eventually pushed the Athenian ships toward the coast, and the Athenian crews fled to the camp behind their wall. Demosthenes suggested that they man the ships again and attempt to force their way out, as now both fleets had lost about half their ships, but Nicias wanted to find refuge on land. Hermocrates sent some supposed informers to the Athenians to falsely report that there were spies and roadblocks further inland, so the Athenians would be safer if they did not march away. Gylippus used this delay to build the roadblocks that did not yet exist, and the Syracusans burned or towed away the Athenian ships on the beach, so that they had no way off the island.

Final Syracusan victory On September 13 the Athenians left camp, leaving their wounded behind and their dead unburied. The survivors, including all the non-combatants, numbered 40 000, and some of the wounded crawled after them as far as they could go. As they marched they defeated a small Syracusan force guarding the river Anapus, but other Syracusan cavalry and light troops continually harassed them. Near the Erineus river, Demosthenes and Nicias became separated, and Demosthenes was attacked by the Syracusans and forced to surrender his 6000 troops. The rest of the Syracusans followed Nicias to the Assinarus river, where Nicias' troops became disorganized in the rush to find drinking water. Many Athenians were trampled to death and others were killed while fighting with fellow Athenians. On the other side of the river a Syracusan force was waiting, and the Athenians were almost completely massacred, by far the worst defeat of the entire expedition in terms of lives lost. Nicias personally surrendered to Gylippus, hoping the Spartan would remember his role in the peace treaty of 421. The few who escaped found refuge in Catana.

The prisoners, now numbering only 7000, were held in the stone quarries near Syracuse, as there was no other room for them. Demosthenes and Nicias were executed, against the orders of Gylippus. The rest spent ten weeks in horrible conditions in their makeshift prison, until all but the Athenians, Italians, and Sicilians were sold as slaves.

Athenian reaction In Athens, the citizens did not, at first, believe the defeat. When they realized the enormity of what had happened, they panicked that Attica was now free for the taking, as Sparta was so close by in Decelea. Upon the return of the remaining prisoners, rumours spread that the captains of the returning warships had given orders to not rescue drowning warriors. The captains in turn accused the genarals to deflect blame from themselves. A trial for treason was held, and the generals were condemned to death, although they were vigrously defended by Socrates.

The defeat caused a huge shift in policy for many other states, as well. States which had until now been neutral joined with Sparta, assuming that Athens' defeat was imminent. Many of Athens' allies in the Delian League also revolted, and although the city immediately began to rebuilt its fleet, there was little they could do about the revolts for the time being.

In 411 BC the Athenian democracy was overthrown in favour of an oligarchy, and Persia joined the war on the Spartan side. Although things looked grim for Athens, they were able to recover for a few years. The oligarchy was soon overthrown, and Athens won the Battle of Cynossema. However, the defeat of the Sicilian expedition was essentially the beginning of the end for Athens. By the end of the century they were defeated and occupied by Sparta.


     A timeline

BC Event
406 Dionysius comes to power.
399 Artillery invented by engineers working for Dionysius.
397 Dionysius I captures Motya from Carthage.
386 Dionysius I Invades southern Italy.
385 Troops sent to aid Illyria.
367 Dionysius I dies.
366 Dionysius II Inherits.
357 Dion overthrows Dionysius II.
354 Dion assassinated.
346 Dionysius II recovers Syracuse.
345/4 Syracuse revolts and appeals to Corinth for help. They send Timoleon who forces Dionysius to surrender.
341 Timoleon defeats the Carthaginians at Crimisus.
334 Timoleon dies.
317 Agathocles becomes tyrant.
311 Agathocles is defeated by the Carthaginians at Licata and besieged in Syracuse
310 Agathocles takes an army to north Africa even though Syracuse is still besieged by Carthage
309 The other Greek colonies in Sicily combine against Syracuse
308 Agathocles murders his ally Ophellas and takes over his army
307 Agathocles returns to Syracuse.
300 Agathocles intervenes in southern Italy.
289 Agathocles Dies.
288 Mamertines (a group of mercenaries turned bandits) occupy Messana.
277 Pyrrhus arrives in Sicily.
275 Pyrrhus returns to Italy.
269 Hieron becomes Tyrant.
264 First Punic war starts. Syracuse allies with Carthage against Rome and the Mamertines.
263 Syracuse changes alliance to Rome.
241 End of first Punic war. Carthage driven from Sicily by Rome.
219 Start of second Punic war.
215 Syracuse allies with Carthage against Rome.
212 Syracuse captured and sacked by Rome.


   A Battles Timeline

BC Place Winner Looser
492 Helorus river Hippocrates of Gela Syracusans
480 Himera Gelon (Syracuse) and Theron Hamilcar (Carthago)
474 Cumae Hieron (Syracuse) Etruscans
472 Acragas Hieron (Syracuse) Thracydeus (Acragantin)
451 Motyum Ducetius (Sicels) Acragantini & Syracuse
451 Nomae Syracusans Ducetius (Sicels)
446 Himera river Syracusans Acragantini
426 Inessa Syracuse Athenians
425 Straits of Messina Athenians & Rhegians Syracusans
415 Olympieium Nicias (Athena) Syracusans
414 Epipolae Athenians Diomilius (Syracuse)
414 Syce Athenians Syracusans
414 Lysimeleia Lamachus (Athena) Syracusans
414 Epipolae Gylippus (Syracuse) Nicias (Athena)
413 Plemmyrium

Athenians - Gylippus (Syracuse)

413 Syracuse harbour Syracusans Athenians
413 Epipolae Gylippus (Syracuse) Demosthenes (Athena)
413 Syracuse harbour Gylippus (Syracuse) Eurymedon (Athena)
413 Syracuse harbour Gylippus (Syracuse) Demosthenes & Nicias (Athena)
406 Eryx Syracusans Hannibal (Carthago)
406 Acragas Daphnaeus (Syracuse) Himilco (Carthago)
404 Neapolis Dionysius I (Campania) Syracusans
397 Syracuse Syracusans Carthaginians
397 Syracuse Dionysius I (Syracuse) Himilco (Carthago)
392 Abacaene Dionysius I (Syracuse) Mago (Carthago)
391 Rhegium Italiots Dionysius I (Syracuse)
389 Elleporus river Dionysius I (Syracuse) Heloris (Italiots)
379 Cabala Dionysius (Sicilian Greeks) Mago (Carthago)
379 Cronium Carthaginians Dionysius I (Sicilian Greeks)
368 Drepanum Carthaginians Dionysius I (Syracuse)
357 Syracuse Dion (Syracuse) Dionysius II (Syracuse)
344 Hadranum Timoleon (Corinth) Hicetas (Leontini)
339 Crimisus river Timoleon (Corinth) Hasdrubal & Hamilcar (Carthago)
338 Damurias river Timoleon (Corinth) Hicetas (Leontini)
338 Abolus river Timoleon (Corinth) Mamercus (Catana)
312 Galeria Pasiphilus & Demophilus (Syracuse) Deinocrates (Syracuse)
311 Ecnomus mountain Hamilcar (Carthago) Agathocles (Syracuse)
310 Tunes Agathocles (Syracuse) Hanno & Bomilcar
309 Euryelus Syracusans Hamilcar (Carthago)
309 Tunes Agathocles (Syracuse) Carthaginians
307 Syracuse Agathocles (Syracuse) Carthaginians
307 Acragas Leptines (Syracuse) Xenodocus (Acragantini)
280 Hyblaeus river Hicetas (Syracuse) Phintias (Acragantini)
280 Terias river Carthaginians Hicetas (Syracuse)
274 Cyamosorus river Hiero II (Syracuse) Mamertines
265 Longanus river Hiero II (Syracuse) Mamertines
264 Messana Claudius Caudex (Rome) Hiero II (Syracuse)
212 Syracuse Romans Syracusans

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