When Dion was exiled from Syracuse by Dionysius, he went to Greece, where he was unhappy only because he could not see the wife and child he loved so dearly.
When he heard that the tyrant had forced his wife to belong to another husband, he vowed he would punish Dionysius for this crime. Plato vainly tried to persuade Dion not to return to Syracuse. The young man refused to listen to his advice, and, gathering together a small army, he set sail without delay.
He landed boldly, although he was an exile, and was welcomed with great joy by all the people, who were very weary of their ruler. When he told them that he had come to punish the tyrant, they all joined him, and marched with him up to the palace. As Dionysius was out of town at the time, they had no trouble whatever in getting into the royal dwelling. This was hastily deserted by the tyrant’s few friends, who took refuge in the citadel.
Some time after, when Dionysius came back to the city, he found the harbor blocked by a great chain stretched across it to prevent the entrance of any ship; and he was forced to retreat into the citadel, where the angry Syracusans came to besiege him. Now, Dion had a great many friends, and, as everybody knew that he was truthful and wellmeaning, the people all fought on his side. He was so strict with himself, however, that he treated his subjects also with great rigor, and exacted such obedience and virtue that they soon grew weary of his reign.
Then, too, while he was always ready to reward the good, Dion punished the wicked with such severity that he soon made many enemies. One of these was the courtier Heraclides, who, instead of showing his dislike openly, began to plot against him in secret. Dionysius, besieged in the citadel, was in sore straits by this time, and almost dying of hunger; for the Syracusans, afraid that he would escape, had built a wall all around the citadel, and watched it night and day, to prevent any one from going in or out, or smuggling in any food.
As Dionysius had no army, and could not win back his throne by force, he made up his mind to do so, if possible, by a trick. He therefore wrote a letter, in which he offered Dion the tyranny in exchange for his freedom. This message was worded so cleverly that it sounded as if Dion had asked to be made tyrant of Syracuse.