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Dionysius the Elder

Dionysius the Elder, c.430–367 BC, tyrant of Syracuse. Of humble origin, he entered politics as a supporter of the poorer classes. Having prompted (400 BC) a measure to elect truly democratic generals, he secured for himself one of these generalships. His next move was to arouse distrust of his colleagues, and so well did he succeed that he soon became tyrant. Fundamentally his reign was characterized by a consistent policy of maintaining the obedience of the Syracusans through fear of the constant menace of the Carthaginians, then masters of a large part of Sicily. At the same time he kept alive the enthusiasm of his subjects by expeditions against the cities of the Italian mainland and by his none too successful efforts to repel the Carthaginians. He sided with Sparta against Athenian naval predominance. He wrote tragedies and was patron of the arts.

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Dionysius the Elder

Dionysius the Elder (c.430–367 bc) Tyrant of Syracuse (405–367 bc). His ambitions were to spread Hellenism beyond Syracuse. Dionysius tried to form an empire in Lower Italy by seizing Rhegium (387), Caulonia and Croton (379). He then mixed the various populations. A supporter of the arts and an erstwhile playwright, he once sold Plato as a slave.

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