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Cornelius Nepos

XX. Timoleon

1. Timoleon Corinthius. Sine dubio magnus omnium iudicio hic vir exstitit. Namque huic uni contigit, quod nescio an nulli,1 ut et patriam in qua erat natus, oppressam a tyranno liberaret, et a Syracusanis, quibus auxilio erat missus, iam inveteratam servitutem depelleret totamque Siciliam, multos annos bello vexatam a barbarisque oppressam, suo adventu in pristinum restitueret.

2Sed in his rebus non simplici fortuna conflictatus est et, id quod difficilius putatur, multo sapientius 3tulit secundam quam adversam fortunam. Nam cum frater eius Timophanes, dux a Corinthiis delectus, tyrannidem per milites mercennarios occupasset particepsque regni ipse posset esse, tantum afuit a societate sceleris, ut antetulerit civium suorum libertatem fratris saluti et parere legibus quam imperare 4patriae satius duxerit. Hac mente per haruspicem communemque adfinem, cui soror ex iisdem parentibus nata nupta erat, fratrem tyrannum interficiundum curavit. Ipse non modo manus non attulit, sed ne aspicere quidem fraternum sanguinem voluit. Nam dum res conficeretur, procul in praesidio fuit, ne quis satelles posset succurrere.

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XX. Timoleon

XX. Timoleon

1. Timoleon, the Corinthian. Without doubt this man has shown himself great in the estimation of all. For he alone had the good fortune, which I am inclined to think fell to the lot of no one else, to free the land of his birth from a tyrant’s oppression, to rescue the Syracusans, whom he had been sent to help, from long-continued slavery, and by his mere arrival to restore all Sicily to its former condition, after it had for many years been harassed by wars and subject to barbarians.

But in the course of these events he had to struggle with varied fortune, and he did what is regarded as especially difficult, that is, showed himself far wiser in prosperity than in adversity. For when his brother Timophanes, who had been chosen general by the Corinthians, made himself tyrant with the aid of mercenary troops,2 although Timoleon might have shared in his power, so far was he from participating in the crime, that he valued the liberty of his fellow-citizens above his brother’s life and considered obedience to its laws preferable to ruling over his country. Owing to that feeling, through the aid of a soothsayer and of a relative by marriage, the husband of their own sister, he caused the death of the tyrant, his own brother. He himself not only did not lay hands upon him, but he did not wish even to look upon his brother’s blood; for while the deed was being done he was some distance away, keeping guard to prevent any palace guard from coming to the tyrant’s aid.

  • 2365 or 364 b.c.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.cornelius_nepos-book_great_generals_foreign_nations_timoleon.1929