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Hiero I of Syracuse

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Title: Hiero I of Syracuse  
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Subject: 470s BC, 474 BC, Ischia, Olympic winners of the Archaic period, Gelo
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Hiero I of Syracuse

Hieron I (Greek: Ἱέρων Α΄) was the son of Deinomenes, the brother of Gelon and tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily from 478 to 467 BC. In succeeding Gelon, he conspired against a third brother Polyzelos. During his reign, he greatly increased the power of Syracuse. He removed the inhabitants of Naxos and Catana to Leontini, peopled Catana (which he renamed Aetna) with Dorians, concluded an alliance with Acragas (Agrigentum) and espoused the cause of the Locrians against Anaxilas, tyrant of Rhegium.

His most important military achievement was the defeat of the Etruscans and Carthaginians at the Battle of Cumae (474 BC), by which he saved the Greeks of Campania from Etruscan domination. A bronze helmet (now in the British Museum), with an inscription commemorating the event, was dedicated at Olympia.

Hieron's reign was marked by the creation of the first secret police in Greek history, and he was a liberal patron of literature and culture. The poets Simonides, Pindar, Bacchylides, Aeschylus, and Epicharmus were active at his court, as well the philosopher Xenophanes. He was an active participant in panhellenic athletic contests, winning several victories in the single horse race and also in the chariot race. He won the chariot race at Delphi in 470 (a victory celebrated in Pindar's first Pythian ode) and at Olympia in 468 (this, his greatest victory, was commemorated in Bacchylides' third victory ode). Other odes dedicated to him include Pindar's first Olympian Ode, his second and third Pythian odes, and Bacchylides' fourth and fifth victory odes.

He died at Catana/Aetna in 467 and was buried there, but his grave was later destroyed when the former inhabitants of Catana returned to the city. The tyranny at Syracuse lasted only a year or so after his death.


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  • Diod. Sic. xi. 38-67; Xenophon, Hiero, 6. 2; E. Lübbert, Syrakus zur Zeit des Gelon und Hieron (1875). N. Luraghi, Tirannidi archaiche in Sicilia e Magna Grecia (Florence, 1994)

Further reading

  • : "Pindar's Ode to Hieron"The Extant Odes of Pindar, BiblioBazaar, 2008, p. 81.
Preceded by:
Tyrant of Gela
485 BC – 478 BC
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Tyrant of Syracuse
478 BC – 467 BC
Succeeded by:
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