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Full show notes available at https://plutarch.life/dion

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Important People

Dionysius I (the elder) – Tyrant of Syracuse taking power shortly after the Peloponnesian War and reigning until 367 BC. For some authors, he's the textbook tyrant in the way he held on to power, the fear that prevented him from trusting almost anyone (except his nephew Dion), and his cruelty. Though Plutarch doesn't mention it, this is the tyrant who shows up in stories like Damon and Pythias or The Sword of Damocles. Dionysius is called D-Prime in this podcast so that we don't confused him with his son or nephew. 

Dionysius II (the younger) – Less accomplished and intelligent than his father, Dionysius does manage to rule Syracuse not once, but twice. We'll see his comeback in Timoleon's story…

Dion – The main character of our tale and one of Plato's best and brightest students. When he fails to convert either the elder or younger tyrant to philosophy, he finds himself exiled, stripped of most of his wealth, and finally discovers his wife has been ordered by the tyrant to marry another man. This means war and Dion takes it to Syracuse. Can he become the next philosopher-king? Will he instead train up a virtuous democracy to overthrow fifty years of tyranny? Tune in to find out!

Plato – Yep. Plato was a real person who had a real life outside of his dialogues (in which he never makes himself a character). You'll want to check out Plato's Seventh Letter for another perspective on the events in this Life. If you haven't read this life, though, Plato's Seventh Letter will be a great deal more obscure. 

Philistus – An accomplished military mind banished by D-Prime but recalled by D-2, Philistus had taken up his pen in exile and written as a historian. As a political enemy and counterweight to Plato's influence on D-2, Plutarch has a lot of reason to hate this man. 

Heracleides – The perfidious but fun-loving rival as Dion tries to tame the tyrannical democracy. Heracleides would rather feed the beast and the tensions certainly mount as Dion fights not one tyrant, but two. 

Callippus – This perfidious Athenian doesn't seem important until the end… and then he's fatally important. 

Important Places

Corinth – Mother city (metropolis, μητρόπολις) of Syracuse and prosperous city on the Peloponnesus. 

Syracuse – 5 major neighborhoods

  • Ortygia – The original island settled by the Corinthians who founded Syracuse. It still contained 
  • Achradina – The heights of the mainland settlement overlooking the ocean and the Neapolis region, famous for the stone quarries in which the Athenians died during the Peloponnesian Wars and after which Dionysius would use for political prisoners. 
  • Neapolis – the most recent addition to the city, North and West of Achradina and Ortygia, but enclosed by the fortifications D-Prime built
  • Tyche – district of Neapolis
  • Epipolae – high plateau in the Neapolis, included in the walls D-Prime built

Key Virtues + Vices

Courage (ἀνδρεία – manliness, courage) – Dionysius I and Plato have a fight about what virtue consists in. Plato concedes that andreia is important but then proves publicly that tyrants are the least manly men. 

Aloofness – Dion struggles to win friends and influence people. 

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