a government clerc in Syracusae, Sicily, Dionysius the Elder sized power and
became tyrant, described as the very archetype of the cruel and foolish kind.
Using mercenaries, he tried to expel the Carthaginians from Sicily. To finance the expedition he plundered temples and took the golden mantle from a statue of Zeus, replacing it with a woolen one with the words that gold was too cold for the god in wintertime. He also took the golden beard of the god Aescleipus saying it was not suitable that the beardless god Apollo should have a bearded father. At first successful, making Syracusae the strongest power in Greek Italy, the tyrant was to be defeated by the Carthaginians later.
The tyrants' fear of being assassinated is very famous. His bed-room had deep ditches and in order to go to bed he had to walk over a plank, which he then pulled in. He also had a cave built from where he could here everything that was said in the neighbourhood. He would arrest people and have them imprisoned in the cave, where he eavesdropped on them.
One most famous people he had arrested was the poet Philoxenos. One day, the
Perhaps the best known anecdote, though, is the one about the persons at court, Damocles. Damocles wanted to flatter the tyrant, and called him the most fortunate man on Earth. Dionysus then invited him to take his place for a day, and had
Apart from being a tyrant, Dionysius the Elder was also a play-wright, competing in the dramatic festivals in Athens