This answer so angered Dionysius, and so sorely wounded his vanity, that he called his guards, and bade them put the philosopher into a prison hewn out of the living rock, and hence known as “The Quarries.” Here Philoxenus was a prisoner for many a day, although his only fault was having told the tyrant an unwelcome truth when asked to speak.

The philosopher’s friends were indignant on hearing that he was in prison, and signed a petition asking Dionysius to set him free. The tyrant read the petition, and promised to grant their request on condition that the philosopher would sup with him. Dionysius’ table was well decked, as usual, and at dessert he again read aloud some new verses which he had composed. All the courtiers went into ecstasies over them, but Philoxenus did not say a word.

Dionysius, however, fancied that his long imprisonment had broken his spirit, and that he would not now dare refuse to give a few words of praise: so he pointedly asked Philoxenus what he thought of the poem. Instead of answering, the philosopher gravely turned toward the guards, and in a firm voice cried aloud, “Take me back to The Quarries!” thus showing very plainly that he preferred suffering to telling an untruth.

The courtiers were aghast at his rashness, and fully expected that the tyrant would take him at his word and put him in prison, if nothing worse; but Dionysius was struck by the moral courage which made Philoxenus tell the truth at the risk of his life, and he bade him go home in peace.

From: H. A. Guerber, The Story of the Greeks; edited for this online publication, by ELLOPOS BLOG