Son of Deinomenes, greatest of Sicilian tyrants before Dionysius 1 I. On the death (c.491 bc) of Hippocrates, he seized the tyranny of Gela. He formed an alliance with Theron of Acragas, married his daughter Damarete, and with him fought the Phoenicians of western Sicily. He restored the exiled aristocracy of Syracuse (485), but seized the city, which became the seat of his power; his brother Hieron 1 I became ruler of Gela. He enlarged his empire by alliance and conquest. He transferred half the population of Gela to Syracuse. In these ways he built up the strongest single military power in Hellas. The growth of his power, allied to Theron's, alarmed Anaxilas of Messana, Terillus of Himera, and the Phoenicians; and from 483, Carthage prepared for war. Gelon was prevented from helping the metropolitan Greeks against Xerxes by Hamilcar's arrival in NW Sicily. The victory of Himera (480) left Gelon, by alliances and the submission of his enemies, virtually the overlord of Sicily, and gave two generations of peace with Carthage. Gelon was now the accepted ruler of Syracuse. He enfranchised 10,000 mercenaries, and built temples at Himera and Syracuse, where his public works, and peace, gave great prosperity, and his reign was looked back on as a golden age. He died in 478/7, and was succeeded by Hieron.
Subjects: Classical Studies.