Overview

Philistus

(c. 430—356 bc)


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Of Syracuse, c.430–356 bc, friend, adviser, officer, and historian of Dionysius 1 I and 2 II. He helped Dionysius I seize power in 406/5 and served for a long time as commander of the tyrant's stronghold on Ortygia. He was exiled for personal reasons in c.386 and on his return put in charge of the organization of colonies along the Adriatic coast. He served as Dionysius II's political adviser and admiral. A staunch opponent of Plato's and Dion's reforms, he died in 356 in the fight against the insurgent Syracusans.

Work

His History of Sicily contained two parts, covering the time from the mythical beginnings until 363/2. The seven books of the first part brought the narrative down to the capture of Acragas by the Carthaginians in 406/5, the second part dealt in four books with the reign of Dionysius I from his accession in 406/5 until his death in 368/7. In addition there were two books on Dionysius II reaching down to 363/2. Philistus favoured the tyrants. Plutarch calls him ‘the greatest lover of tyrants and more than any one else an admirer of the luxury, power, wealth, and marriage alliances of tyrants’. He was nevertheless a very competent and important historian: ancient critics regarded him as an imitator of Thucydides 2.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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