(born circa 430 BC—died 367) Tyrant of Syracuse (405–367). He became ruler with Spartan help and retained power until his death, basing his strength on the support of his mercenary army. He held Carthaginian expansion on Sicily in check and hoped to acquire an empire in Greek Italy. Syracuse's economy depended on war, and under Dionysius great advances were made in the technology of large-scale artillery and the manufacture of munitions. His disastrous third campaign against the Carthaginians resulted in the ceding of money and territory; he died during the next Carthaginian conflict.
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Length: 27 Kilometers
Width at base: 3.3 m to 5.35 m
Number of known towers on Circuit: 14 (including Euryalos)
Largest tower: 8.5 m x 8.5 m
Deepest ditch (at Euryalos fortress): 9 mBuilding so big a fortress would have involved installing well over 300 tons of stone every day for 5 years.
After a protracted siege he took Rhegium (386), and sold the inhabitants as slaves. He joined the Illyrians in an attempt to plunder the temple of Delphi, pillaged the temple of Caere (then allied with Rome) on the Etruscan coast, and founded several military colonies on the Adriatic. In the Peloponnesian War he espoused the side of the Spartans, and assisted them with mercenaries.
In 385 BC Alcetas of Epirus was a refugee in Dionysus' court. Dionysus wanted a friendly monarch in Epirus and so sent 2,000 Greek hoplites and five hundred suits of Greek armour to help the Illyrians under Bardyllis in attacking the Molossians of Epirus. They ravaged the region and killed 15,000 Molossians, and Alcetas regained his throne. Sparta however intervened; under Agesilaus and with aid from Thessaly, Macedonia, and the Molossians themselves, the Spartans expelled the Illyrians.
He also posed as an author and patron of literature; his poems, severely criticized by Philoxenus, were hissed at the Olympic games; but having gained a prize for a tragedy on the Ransom of Hector at the Lenaea at Athens, he was so elated that he engaged in a debauch which proved fatal.
Additionally, it is said that upon hearing news of his play, The Ransom of Hector, winning the competition at the Lanaean festival at Athens, he celebrated so fiercely that he drank himself to death. Others report that he died of natural causes shortly after learning of the his play's victory in 367 BC. The third theory suggests that "The Company", of which he was a member, had taken revenge on his earlier purges and taxation imposed upon them, in an attempt to raise money for the war with Carthage.
The Ear of Dionysius in Syracuse is an artificial limestone cave named after Dionysius.
position previously held
by Thrasybulus in 465 BC
|Tyrant of Syracuse|
405 BC– 367 BC
Dionysius the Younger