He was the son of Pheidias, an astronomer, and was on intimate terms with, if not related to, Hiero, king of Syracuse, and Gelo his son.
Thus he devised for Hiero engines of war which almost terrified the Romans, and which protracted the siege of Syracuse for three years.
The island was perhaps occupied by Greek settlers even before Cumae; its Eretrian and Chalcidian inhabitants abandoned it about Soo B.C. owing to an eruption, and it is said to have been deserted almost at once by the greater part of the garrison which Hiero I.
It is believed to occupy the site of the ancient Aetna, a settlement founded by the colonists whom Hiero I.
Hiero asked him to give an illustration of his contention that a very great weight could be moved by a very small force.
He is said to have fixed on a large and fully laden ship and to have used a mechanical device by which Hiero was enabled to move it by himself: but accounts differ as to the particular mechanical powers employed.
Gelon, who seized the tyranny on his death, became master of Syracuse in 485 B.C., and transferred his capital thither with half the inhabitants of Gela, leaving his brother Hiero to rule over the rest.
Gelo's brother and successor, Hiero(478-467), kept up the power of the city; he won himself a name by his encouragement of poets, especially Aeschylus and Simonides, and philosophers; and his Pythian and Olympian victories made him the special subject of the songs of Pindar and Bacchylides; among the recently discovered works of the latter are three Odes (iii.
A better time began under Hiero II., who had fought under Pyrrhus and who rose from the rank of general of the Syracusan army to be tyrant - king, as he came to be soon styled - about 270.
Hieronymus, the grandson of Hiero, thought fit to ally himself with Carthage; he did not live, however, to see the mischief he had done, for he fell in a conspiracy which he had wantonly provoked by his arrogance and cruelty.
There was a fierce 1 The laws of Hiero are often mentioned with approval in Cicero's speeches against Verres.
Each of the nine cunei bore a name: the inscriptions of five of them, still preserved on the rock, are in honour of Zeus, Heracles, King Hiero II., his wife Philistis, and his daughterin-law Nereis.
To the west of the amphitheatre is the foundation of the great altar erected by Hiero II.
In 474 the Etruscan fleet was destroyed by Hiero I.
They came to war with Hiero II.
Thrasydaeus, son of Theron of Agrigentum, seems to have ruled the city oppressively, but an appeal made to Hiero of Syracuse, Gelon's brother, was betrayed by him to Theron; the latter massacred all his enemies and in the following year resettled the town.
Gelo was followed by his brother Hiero (478-467), the special subject of the songs of Pindar.
Acragas H meanwhile flourished under Thero; but a war between him and Hiero led to slaughter and new settlement at Himera.
These transplantings from city to city began under Gelo and went on under Hiero (q.v.).
When the power of Hiero passed in 467 B.C. to his brother Thrasybulus the freedom of Syracuse was won by a combined movement of Greeks and Sicels, and the Greek cities gradually settled down as they had been before the tyrannies, only with a change to democracy in their constitutions.
Epicharmus (540-450), carried as a babe to Sicily, is a link between native Siceliots and the strangers invited by Hiero; as the founder of the local Sicilian comedy, he ranks among Siceliots.
Agathocles now put his name, first without, and then with, the kingly title, though never his own likeness - Hiero II.
Sicily in truth never had a more hopeful champion than Hiero II.
Hiero, claiming descent from Gelo, pressed the Mamertines hard.
Carthaginian troops held the Messanian citadel against Hiero, while another party in Messana craved the help of the head of Italy.
The exploits of Hiero had already won him the kingly title (270) at Syracuse, and he was the representative of Hellenic life and independence throughout the island.
When Rome entered Sicily as the ally of the Mamertines, Hiero became the ally of Carthage.
The kingdom of Hiero was the first-fruits out of Italy of the system by which alliance with Rome grew into subjection to Rome.
Within the Roman province the new state of things called forth much discontent; but Hiero remained the faithful ally of Rome through a long life.
The reign of Hiero was the last time of independent Greek culture in Sicily.
The poet, himself of Syracuse, went to and fro between the courts of Hiero and Ptolemy Philadelphus; but his poetry is essentially Sicilian.
Hesychius says the Thracian women made sheets of hemp. Moschion (about 200 B.C.) records the use of hempen ropes for rigging the ship "Syracusia" built for Hiero II.
It was built in 1693, after the destruction by an earthquake of the old town of Occhiala to the north; the latter, on account of the similarity of name, is generally identified with Echetla, a frontier city between Syracusan and Carthaginian territory in the time of Hiero II., which appears to have been originally a Sicel city in which Greek civilization prevailed from the 5th century onwards.
The poet praises Hiero II.
The encomium upon Hiero II.
Now Hiero first came to the front in 275 B.C. when he was made " General " (QTpaT27y6s) : Theocritus speaks of his achievements as still to come, and the silence of the poet would show that Hiero's marriage to Philistis, his victory over the Mamertines at the Longanus and his election as " King " (#ao-Aein), events which are ascribed to 270 B.C., had not yet taken place.
The usual view is that Theocritus went first from Syracuse to Cos, and then, after suing in vain for the favour of Hiero, took up his residence permanently in Egypt.
Wilamowitz-Mollendorff, laying stress on the fact that in the best MS. the poem to Ptolemy (xvii.) comes before that to Hiero (xvi.), very ingeniously puts the Egyptian period first and supposes it to have been of very short duration (i.e.
277 to 275), and then makes the poet, after his unsuccessful appeal to Hiero, retire to Cos for the rest of his life.
Early in life he went to Megara in Sicily, and after its destruction by Gelo (484) removed to Syracuse, where he spent the rest of his life at the court of Hiero, and died at the age of ninety or (according to a statement in Lucian, Macrobii, 25) ninety-seven.
During the First Punic War it belonged to the kingdom of Hiero, and after his death it enjoyed an exceptionally favoured position with regard to Rome, being like Messana and Netum, a civitas foederata.
Very little is heard of Catina in history until 476 B.C., when Hiero I.