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Timoleon - 4th Century Corinthian Politician and General.





In the late 360s Timoleon's brother, Timophanes, was put in command of 400 mercenaries hired to defend Corinth [see section Cc of map], but used them instead to make himself tyrant. When Timophanes refused to listen to Timoleon's attempts to dissuade him, Timoleon helped in the assassination of Timophanes.

Syracusans see Syracuse on section Gc of map] opposed to the tyranny of Dionysius the Younger allied themselves with Hicetes of Leontini, and sent to Corinth, Syracuse's founder, for help against a Carthaginian invasion. Unbeknownst to them, Hicetes was plotting to obstruct the attempts to get help from Corinth and ally himself with the Carthaginians in order to take over Syracuse.

Timoleon was chosen by the Corinthians to lead the expedition of 10 ships and 1200 men to help the Syracusans (344). Timoleon gained a foothold in Tauromenia, by which time Hicetes and the Carthaginians had taken Syracuse and were besieging Dionysius in the citadel on the island of Ortygia. Dionysius preferred to surrender to Timoleon in exchange for safe conduct to Corinth.

When Timoleon eventually took Syracuse he demolished the citadel and built courts of justice on the site. As the population of Syracuse had been severely depleted by the wars, Timoleon wrote to Corinth suggesting people be sent out to found a new colony on the site. Exiles from Syracuse returned at the cost of Corinth and were joined by colonists from all over Greece, and from Italy and other parts of Sicily.

Timoleon continued military action to get rid of tyrants from other Sicilian cities and helped draw up a new constitution for the freed cities. He sent his mercenary soldiers to stir up trouble in the Carthaginian-controlled parts of Sicily, which resulted in a new Carthaginian invasion of 70,000 men and 200 ships. Timoleon defeated the Carthaginians at a battle on the river Crimisus (339).

Hicetes continued plotting with the Carthaginians against Timoleon until he was captured by Timoleon (338). Timoleon made a treaty with the Carthaginians by which the river Halycus was set as the border between Greek Sicily and Carthaginian Sicily.

Sicily was now at peace, and although Timoleon had no official position, he was consulted by all the cities of Greek Sicily on all important matters. In his retirement he went blind. After his death (337) he was buried in the marketplace of Syracuse, and a portico and exercise grounds, called the Timoleonteum, were constructed round his tomb.

See: Plutarch's life of Timoleon

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