Mediterranean Hegemon of Ancient Greece - Chapter 581: The Curtain Falls
“Dion, I heard you gathered the children to play games on the ship these days, greatly reducing the trouble for us. Well done!” Said Dionysius with praise.
Dion responded without arrogance, “That’s the only thing I can do to help you as I can’t help you with your work.”
“‘Doing what you can only do’, that’s wonderful!” Dionysius praised loudly. He then turned his head to look at his father-in-law, “I think Dion can become an important minister of Syracuse in 20 years!”
And the usually stern Hipparinus smiled.
‘Important minister?’ Philistus smiled without anyone noticing.
“Halt! You are not allowed to enter!” The guard from the outside suddenly shouted, making Dionysius’ heart tighten. But just as he was about to ask who it was, they could hear the sound of fighting outside the door.
Then the people in the cabin heard angry roars and distressed screams, turning everyone’s expression changed drastically.
Hipparinus then hurriedly protected the two children behind him.
“I’ll go out and see the situation.” Said Philistus nervously.
“Don’t go! Megakorlis should arrive at any moment with his mercenaries. Hmph, it is not easy to intimidate me, Dionysius!” Dionysius, who remained calm, had his face become frightening. However, his heart was like a stormy sea as he could roughly guess who the attacker was.
Then with a loud bang, the cabin’s door was kicked open violently, scaring little Dionysius so much that he cried loudly.
On the other hand, Dionysius, Philistus and Hipparinus turned pale as they were too surprised to see Spartan warriors with scarlet cloaks, long hair, thick bears and soaked with blood breaking into the cabin with their shields and spears.
Dionysius and Philistus looked at each other as shock filled their faces.
Seeing the man behind the situation entering the cabin, Dionysius shouted angrily, “Phidias, what do you mean by this?!”
“It is what as you see.” Phidias’ eyes turned cold, and the Spartan warriors in front of him readied for battle as cold gleams flashed through the tips of their spears.
The young but mature Dion, who had never seen such a frightening sight, shakingly held his father’s hand tightly.
“I…I already said I wouldn’t go to Sparta. Are you really…going to force me?!” Dionysius shouted, trying to suppress his fear.
“I didn’t say I would take you to Sparta.” Phidias’ sentence made the three people turn cold.
“Phidias, you pledge to Heracles that you would safely take us out of Sicily to our destination!” Philistus hurriedly reminded Phidias, “Sparta is the hegemon of the Greek city-states! And the blood of Heracles flowing through you! Sparta has always been the example for all Greeks! Yet you are now breaking your pledge!”
“I didn’t break it.” Phidias smiled proudly at the success of his scheme, which made his whole face look a little eerie, “I said I would guarantee to send you safely to Sparta. However, you yourselves refused to go to Sparta, so it is only natural for that pledge to cease to exist.”
“You…you have already had this plan beforehand.” Realisation suddenly struck Dionysius.
Phidias sneered, “Didn’t you already plan to deceive me from the beginning?!”
After his initial shock and fear, Dionysius regained some of his composure and asked, “Even if I don’t want to go to Sparta and go against the wishes of your Gerousia, it’s still not enough for you to use your swords and spears…to deal with me! Why?!”
Phidias looked at him but didn’t answer him immediately. Instead, after showing a look of understanding, he laughed, “I know you are stalling for time, expecting the mercenaries to save you.”
Phidias’ calmness alarmed Dionysius.
“Megakorlis!” Phidias shouted. Soon, the figure of the mercenary leader appeared at the cabin’s door, causing Dionysius and the others to turn ashen.
“They are more willing to follow Sparta to win honour and land than to go with you to a remote place to suffer and not enjoy a good life.” Said Phidias proudly.
“Me…Megakorlis, are you a fool? Sparta is poor and can’t afford to pay you! In addition, if you are not satisfied with your payment, we can increase it!…” Hipparinus furiously shouted in an attempt to get Megakorlis to change his mind.
Phidias laughed and said, “Yeah, Sparta have no money. However, you have. Those transport ships are filled with silver coins that the mercenaries have long coveted!”
The situation was so critical that Dionysius finally lowered his prideful head and pleaded in a low voice, “Phidias, can you let us go for the sake of our past friendship!…ah!…the silver coins, gold coins you can take it, even those warships and transport ships, just let us go…let us go! Phidias, believe me, I can still recapture Syracuse and provide greater help to Sparta’s hegemony!…”
But Phidias just stared at him.
After a while, he said in a low voice, “Dionysius, I apologise. I am just doing what the Gerousia had ordered…”
“Why?! Why?! You should know that Heloris and his men can’t control Syracuse! Much less deal with the more powerful Theonia! Only I! Only I could stop Theonia’s expansion! I can even help you stabilise the western Mediterranean!…” Dionysius shouted, and his terrifying expression made little Dionysius cry even louder.
“…Sparta signed a long-term treaty with Theonia…” Although this matter wasn’t allowed to be made public, Phidias felt it didn’t matter if they heard it, “One of them is to have us take your life, Dionysius….”
“…so it is…Davos…that damned Davos who deserves to go to hell!…” Dionysius felt so disheartened that his legs suddenly went weak, and his body swayed a few times until he fell to the ground.
“Wah wah! Wah wah!…father!…”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dionysius felt warmth at hearing these concerned voices. He was obsessed with his hegemony in the past, so how could he even pay attention to these? Seeing his son, whose tears filled up his face, Dion, who was shivering, Philistus, who was forcing himself to be calm, and Hipparinus, who became pale, Dionysius suddenly turned to look at Phidias and said, “Phidias, you can kill me and give my…head to Davos! But the treaty you signed must not have included my family and friends, so…so please let them go!…even if you take them to Sparta!…”
“Dionysius, my dear friend!” Philistus shouted in agitation.
But Dionysius stretched out his hand to stop him and said sincerely, “Philistus, you must take care of my family!”
Philistus nodded hesitantly with tears in his eyes.
“It is true that the treaty only requires your life.” said Phidias and then continued, “However, I had agreed to Megakorlis’ conditions in order to convince the mercenaries.”
“What conditions?!” Dionysius was startled and turned his gaze to Megakorlis, who had his head kept looking down.
At this moment, Megakorlis raised his head, and his usually submissive and flattering expression was replaced with cruelty, “Lord Dionysius, you always reminded us every time you made us massacre a city that we must not spare a single enemy so as not to create trouble for Syracuse in the future! And I am just following your instructions today as well.”
Dionysius could never imagine that what he had done over the years would come back to bite his family. At this moment, he had no time to repent at the goddess of vengeance as he took several steps on his knees and begged, “Megakorlis, you know how I have treated you mercenaries over the years! Not only did I pay you well, but I have also given you land and treatment far better than my own brothers! That is how much I trusted you, yet is this how you would repay me?!… Remember how you didn’t even have enough food to eat your fill when you first came to Sicily…”
Phidias was already somewhat impatient with Dionysius’ emotional remarks, so he glanced at Megakorlis and asked, “What you want to do? You should decide as soon as possible!”
Megakorlis looked at the kneeling Dionysius, who was helpless and mourning. However, what came to his mind was the tyrant, who, after repelling the Carthaginian army, immediately broke his promise and ordered Megakorlis to lead the mercenaries to arrest the families, friends and relatives of the 127 democrats who wanted to oust him. Back then, Dionysius didn’t even hesitate to order the execution of all men, women and children, and it was even Megakorlis who carried out the order. At that time, only the cold gaze of Dionysius was imprinted in his mind.
‘We aren’t the Syracusan democrats who lost their lives because of some stupid concessions!’ Megakorlis then ruthlessly ordered, “Brothers, do it!”
Then dozens of heavily armed mercenaries rushed into the cabin.
Seeing this, Phidias said, “Let’s go.”
Then the Spartan warriors surrounded him and retreated outside the cabin. Phidias neither wanted to see Dionysius getting killed with his own eyes nor the Spartan warriors stained with the blood of Dionysius and his family.
But the already desperate Dionysius had unexpectedly jumped up, which caught a mercenary who had just rushed in off guard, and took the spear from the mercenary’s hand.
With a spear in his hand, Dionysius quickly backed away and protected little Dionysius behind him. At the same time, like a night owl, he burst into unpleasant laughter, “HAHAHA…Phidias, you Spartans might have signed a peace treaty with Theonia and thought everything would be okay. Ptooey! But I bet that in less than 30 years, the ever-growing Theonia would destroy Sparta! By then, this world will no longer have any Spartans, and I will be waiting for you in hell! Megakorlis, you have betrayed me today, and the Spartans will abandon you tomorrow! If the Spartans would deceive even me, let alone treat you lowly mercenaries!!!…”
Phidias’ expression slightly changed as he did not expect Dionysius would still stir up troubles. Seeing Megakorlis looking at him subconsciously, Phidias immediately shouted, “What are you still waiting for?!”
“Yes! Yes!” Megakorlis then immediately gave the order.
But how could Dionysius resist the charging of dozen mercenaries?
After getting pierced three times, Dionysius fell to the ground.
In his dying moment, his son’s and friends’ screams could no longer stir up Dionysius’ heart. Instead, he saw his respected teacher, the supreme commander of Syracuse – Hermocrates, who had defeated the Athenian army and Carthaginians, and Hermocrates’ daughter, his most beloved wife, smiling at him…
He then happily reached out his hand…
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
At the same time, the new king of Theonia, Davos, led the first batch of soldiers to return to Thurii through the Arc de Triomphe in the city and headed to Nike Square.
Crowds of people filled both sides of the road, throwing petals and waving ribbons as they cheered non-stop at the warriors who saved Theonia and defended their homes with excitement.
After the chariots pulled by four white horses stopped at the west of the square, close to the steps of the Grand Senate Hall, Davos stepped steadily onto the stage.
“Your majesty!” Kunogelata and Cornelius led the statesmen to greet him.
“You’ve worked hard!” After Davos returned the greetings, he turned around and faced the square.
But before he could speak, the audience excitedly cheered,
“All hail King Davos!!!…”
“All hail the Theonia Union!!!…”
I – Dionysius.
In our history, Dionysius died in 367 B.C. After winning the first prize in a Greek poetry competition, Dionysius, who rarely drank liquor, drank excessively to celebrate his victory, which resulted in a fever. Hence, his physician prescribed him a dose of sedative and drugs, but he immediately fell asleep after taking it and never woke up again. Thus there were also rumours saying that the physician had poisoned him.
After conquering Sicily, Dionysius waged several wars against Magna Graecia. He successively conquered Rhegium and Crotone while destroying the cities of Caulonia and Hipponion. He also instigated the Lucanians to attack Thurii’s territory, which the Thurians repelled. However, when the Thurains led a large army to counter-attack, their whole army was decimated*. As a result, Thurii, whose strength was greatly damaged, yielded to Syracuse. (This is the event that happened in the second volume of the story. But the only thing is, I made it happen ten years earlier.)
Dionysius then focused his attention on the Adriatic Sea after conquering Magna Graecia, where he had established several colonial cities on the eastern and western shores of the Adriatic in an attempt to make the Adriatic Sea the inner lake of Syracuse. Among these colonial cities were Ancona, as we know it today and the city of Hadria (the city before Venice).
At Syracuse’s strongest, its territory included most of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, with a population of about 2.2 million. In Greece, many knowledgeable people even compared Syracuse with Persia and considered them a threat. So at several Olympic Games, there was always a situation where the Greeks would besiege the Syracusan athlete’s camp, protesting to them and even clashing with them. That, of course, was also related to Dionysius partnering with the mercenaries in plundering the Temple of Delphi, although they ultimately failed.
In the latter half of Dionysius’ life, he fought and lost more than he won against Carthage, who had recovered its strength. In consequence, it limited Syracuse’s further expansion. Thus, for this reason, Dionysius had even transferred his hatred to Rome, Carthage’s ally.
In 390 B.C., the Gauls in northern Italy marched southward to attack the Etruscans. But at Dionysius’ instigation, they continued their march towards the south after defeating the Roman reinforcements, crossed the Tiber River and captured the city of Rome, which became one of the most painful memories in Roman history. Thus it showed Dionysius’ ability to deal with foreigners, so it was not surprising for him to incite the Samnites to fight against the Theonians in this story.
Dionysius’ had a groundbreaking political wit as he divided his territory into different ways of ruling according to the conditions of each region, a system that later resembled that of Rome. He then subdivided his army and specialised its training, from which Macedonia later benefited greatly.
Not only was Dionysius modest in his habits and restricted his children’s misbehaviour, but he also ruled the Syracusans strictly. It might be because his mentor and father-in-law Hermocrates was deceived and killed by the Syracusan democrats, his wife was raped by mobs and committed suicide, while he himself was seriously wounded and escaped only by hiding in a pile of corpses…these tragic encounters in his early years prompted him to change his personality.
Dionysius is a complex historical figure, so it would already be satisfying to write a portrayal that could at least resemble a tenth of him.
II – Dion.
According to the famous ancient Roman historian, Plutarch, in his 《Biographies of illustrious Greeks and Romans》, the age of this well-known historical figure should be less than ten years old at this time, while the young Dionysius hadn’t been born yet. However, I forcefully included both of them at the last moment because there would no longer be a chance later.
As the ‘prime minister’ of the next generation of tyrants in Syracuse, Dionysius trained Dion. He also sent him to Athens to study under Plato, which developed into a deep friendship. Perhaps due to the influence of the democratic culture of Athens, Dion devoted himself to supporting Dionysius II while also wanting the young tyrant to become more democratic and wise, so he invited Plato.
When educating the young Dionysius, Plato used ‘virtues’ in the hope of training him into a ‘philosophical king’. But before long, Dionysius II became tired of them, and due to the persuasion of others, he invited back Philistus, who had been relegated to Hadria for many years.
And as soon as the shrewd Philistus returned, he made it clear that the pair of Plato and Dion doesn’t go well with Syracuse. And after some manipulation, Dionysius II suspected the two men had ulterior motives.
While Plato returned to Athens unhappy, Dion was expelled from Syracuse. A few years later, Dion returned to Syracuse with his army and overthrew the tyrant’s rule. But when the newly formed council wanted to elect a leader democratically, Dion argued that they must centralise the authority to make it efficient, and any decision of the city-state must first have his approval!
As a result, his stubbornness prevented the chaos of Syracuse from quelling. In the end, he died while Syracuse’s strength was significantly harmed and went into decline.
I feel that he is like Yeltsin, so I don’t understand why Plutarch chose him over other more famous figures who had a more significant impact on ancient Greek history, such as Epaminondas. Is it because Dion respected democracy and staged a coup?!
III – Heloris.
There is little information about this historical figure in the data I collected. I only knew that he was a supporter of Dionysius in the early part and later opposed Dionysius’ dictatorship, which can be seen from his sentence that later became a famous saying, ‘Tyranny is a beautiful shroud’.
Before Dionysius invaded Magna Graecia, he fled Sicily and united the city-states in Magna Graecia to form a coalition army to defend against Dionysius. Although he was a Syracusan, he managed to become the supreme commander of the coalition army. But I don’t understand why an outsider could become the supreme commander of Magna Graecia: Was it because he was famous? Or was it because choosing generals from other city-states would cause conflict, so picking him was acceptable to everyone?
When Heloris led the coalition army to march toward the invading Syracusan army, he was at the forefront of the vanguard. But instead of sending scouts or spies to inspect the battlefield beforehand, he marched straight without knowing the enemy’s exact location. As a result, he encountered the Syracusan army waiting for him near Scylletium.
Heloris remained undaunted. But while resisting the enemy tenaciously, he sent heralds to inform the troops behind him to arrive as soon as possible.
It resulted in the coalition army fighting back using the ‘replenishing tactics’, which Dionysius defeated. With the death of Heloris and the forced surrender of Magna Graecia’s most powerful army, there was no longer anyone that could stop Dionysius’ ambition to conquer Magna Graecia.
Sometimes, I doubt Heloris is a rebel as his commanding ability is genuinely atrocious! Thus everyone should understand why the archon of Taranto, Diaomilas, was easily ambushed by the Messapi-Peuceti alliance earlier in the story. It is because the commanding ability of many Greek city-state generals in this era is truly horrible, and their tactics are too behind. Thus to increase the excitement of the war, I deliberately elevated their level. Otherwise, Davos’ Theonian army, which was formed by the advanced military regulations of his previous life, would…
IV – Pheidon.
When mentioning this name, I guess many readers do not remember who he is. Pheidon was a general of Rhegium, so why did I mention him specifically? It is because he is only one of the only historically documented named figures from this period in Magna Graecia(the other one is Archytas). You might ask, what about Kunogelata and Cornelius? Well, they are all fictional characters I created because there are too few historical records of Magna Graecians in this period.
There weren’t many records about Pheidon, only that after the defeat of the allied army, he still led the Rhegian army to fight Dionysius. Although he suffered repeated loss, his tenacity had caused great trouble to Dionysius. So after breaching the city of Rhegium, Dionysius killed his whole family, including relatives and friends.
With so much stuff written, the readers might think I am cheating by increasing the word count. But since I had collected and summarised so much information about Sicily and Magna Graecia, it should be worth some money, hahaha!
Now that Theonia City-State Union led by Davos had interrupted the glory of Syracuse created by Dionysius in this world, can Theonia create a far greater glory than Syracuse? Please continue reading the next volume, 《The Kingdom’s Ten years》!