What Is the Legend of Damon and Pythias About?


Quick Answer

The Greek legend of Damon and Pythias reveals the potential rewards of true friendship and self-sacrifice. It also describes the lengths devoted friends go to for each other.

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Full Answer

While visiting Syracuse, best friends Damon and Pythias run into trouble. Pythias speaks out against the king, who has him arrested and sentences him to death. Pythias begs the king to let him go home and say goodbye to his family, but the king refuses, convinced that he wouldn't come back. Damon agrees to stay behind and to let the king kill him if Pythias doesn't return. The king doesn't understand why Damon would sacrifice himself for his friend, but he agrees to let Pythias go and says that he will kill Damon if Pythias isn't back in 30 days.

After saying goodbye to his family, Pythias sets out for Syracuse, unwilling to let Damon die in his place. When pirates attack his ship, he explains that his friend will die if he isn't back by the end of the month, but the pirates don't care. They throw him overboard, and Pythias swims to shore. Without any money or another way to get back to Syracuse, Pythias begins to run. In Syracuse, despite the king believing otherwise, Damon knows that Pythias is coming back to face his sentence.

Pythias returns on the last possible day and finds Damon tied up and ready to be executed. Pythias steps forward to accept his fate, and the king, so moved by their deep friendship and devotion, pardons Pythias and asks both men to serve as his advisors.

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