The Story of the Greeks
Page: 94The young man was very glad to do so. He hoped, that, under the philosopher's wise teachings, Dionysius would learn to be good and industrious, and thus become a blessing instead of a curse to his people. But Plato was already an old man, and answered that he could not undertake so long a journey at his advanced age.
Dion then wrote again such imploring letters, that the philosopher finally decided to change his mind, and set sail for Syracuse. There he was received at the shore by Dionysius in person, and escorted to the palace.
For a short time the tyrant listened with great pleasure to the philosopher's teachings. Then, growing weary of virtue as of everything else, he suddenly began to reproach Dion for bringing such a tiresome person to court.
All the courtiers had pretended to listen to Plato's teaching with the greatest interest; but they liked feasting better than philosophy, and now began to make fun of the great Athenian, and to turn him into ridicule.
They were so afraid that the virtuous Dion would again win their fickle master's ear, and induce him to do something really useful and reasonable, that they made up their minds to get rid of him.
By artful slander they soon made Dionysius believe that his brother-in-law was a traitor, and that his only wish was to take the power, and become tyrant of Syracuse in his stead.[Pg 212]
Now, these accusations were not true; but Dionysius believed them, and sent Dion into exile, forbidding his wife, who loved him dearly, to go with him, and even forcing her to take another husband instead.
The courtiers wished to revenge themselves for the weary hours they had spent listening to Plato's beautiful talk, which they were too base to understand, so they now said that he had helped Dion; and they had him first put into prison, and then sold into slavery.
Happily, there were some of the philosopher's friends in town; and they, hearing of this outrage, knew no rest until they had bought his freedom, and sent him back to Athens to end his life in peace.
On his way home, Plato stopped at Olympia to attend the games. As soon as the people found out that he was there, they shouted for joy; and one and all voted him a crown just like those won by the victors in the games.
This was the highest honor the Greeks could bestow; and, although it was nothing but a wreath of olive leaves, you may be sure that the philosopher prized it more highly than if it had been of pure gold, because it was a token of the love and respect of his countrymen.
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.[Pg 213]
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.