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Hicetas (general)

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Hicetas (general)

Hicetas (Greek: Ἱκέτας or Ἱκέτης) was a Syracusan general, contemporary with the younger Dionysius and Timoleon. He is first mentioned as a friend of Dion, after whose death (353 BCE), his wife, Arete, and his sister Aristomache, placed themselves under the care of Hicetas. The latter was at first disposed to protect them, but was afterwards persuaded by the enemies of Dion to consent to their destruction, and he accordingly placed them on board a ship bound for Corinth, with secret instructions that they should be put to death upon the voyage. (Plut. Dion, 58.) In the disorders that ensued, he succeeded in establishing himself (at what precise time we know not) in the possession of Leontini, which became, after the return of the younger Dionysius, a rallying point for all the disaffected Syracusans. But while Hicetas was secretly aiming at the expulsion of Dionysius, for the purpose of establishing himself in his place, the fears of a Carthaginian invasion, and the desire to restore tranquillity to the island, led the Sicilians (the Syracusan exiles among the rest) to send an embassy imploring assistance from Corinth. Hicetas ostensibly joined in the request; but as this was entirely opposed to his schemes, he at the same time entered into secret negotiations with the Carthaginians. Meanwhile, he had assembled a considerable force, with which he attacked Syracuse; and having defeated Dionysius in a decisive action, made himself master of the whole city, except the island citadel, in which he kept the tyrant closely besieged. (Plut. Timol. 1, 2, 7, 9, 11; Diod. xvi. 65, 67, 68.) This was the state of things when Timoleon, having eluded the vigilance of the Carthaginians, landed in Sicily (344 BCE). Hicetas, learning that that general was advancing to occupy Adranum, hastened thither to anticipate him, but was defeated with heavy loss; and shortly afterwards Dionysius surrendered the citadel into the hands of the Corinthian leader. Hicetas, finding that he had now to cope with a new enemy, and having failed in an attempt to rid himself of Timoleon by assassination, determined to have recourse openly to the assistance of Carthage, and introduced Mago, at the head of a numerous fleet and army, into the port and city itself of Syracuse. Their joint operations were, however, unsuccessful; while they were engaged in an attempt upon Catana (modern Catania), Neon, the commander of the Corinthian garrison, recovered Achradina; and shortly afterwards Mago, alarmed at the disaffection among his mercenaries, and apprehensive of treachery, suddenly withdrew, with all his forces, and returned to Carthage. (Plut. Timol. 12, 13, 16—20; Diod. xvi. 68—70, who, however, erroneously places the departure of Mago before the surrender of Dionysius.) Hicetas was now unable to prevent Timoleon from making himself wholly master of Syracuse; and the latter, as soon as he had settled affairs there, turned his arms against Leontini; and would probably have succeeded in expelling Hicetas from thence also, had not the Carthaginian invasion for a time required all his attention. But after his great victory at the Crimissus (339 BCE), he soon resumed his project of freeing Sicily altogether from the tyrants. Hicetas had concluded a league with Mamercus, ruler of Catana, and they were supported by a body of Carthaginian auxiliaries sent them by Gisco; but though they at first gained some partial successes, Hicetas was totally defeated by Timoleon at the river Damurias, and soon after fell into the hands of the enemy, by whom he was put to death, together with his son Eupolemus. His wife and daughters were carried to Syracuse, where they were executed, by order of the people, in vengeance for the fate of Arete and Aristomache. (Plut. Timol. 21, 24, 30—33; Diod. xvi. 72, 73, 81, 82.)

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