AGATHOCLES B.c.), tyrant of Syracuse, was the son of a potter, born at Thermae Himeraeae (mod. Termini Imerese) in Sicily. He removed to Syracuse and served with dis tinction in the army. In 333 B.C. he married the widow of his patron Damas, a distinguished and wealthy citizen. He was twice banished f or attempting to overthrow the oligarchical party in Syracuse (q.v.) in 317 B.c. he returned with an army of exiles and Campanian mercenaries. He banished or murdered some o,000 -members of the senate and the oligarchical party, proclaiming himself the champion of the people, and thus made himself master of Syracuse. His tyranny was confirmed by a virtually unanimous vote of the people, and, despite his continuous wars, he seems to have been generally popular. He enriched Syracuse with many public buildings, and his reign was looked back to as a period of orderliness and tranquillity. His foreign policy was inevitably part of the almost continuous 200 years' war between the Sicilian Greeks and their secular enemy, Carthage (q.v.). In these wars Syracuse had always taken the lead, and Agathocles only continued the policy of Dionysius the Elder, Dionysius the Younger and Timoleon (qq.v.).
In 310 B.C. Agathocles, defeated and besieged in Syracuse, took the desperate resolve of breaking through the blockade and attacking the enemy in Africa. He besieged Carthage, which was at the time troubled by internal dissensions, but after several victories he was at last completely defeated (3o6) and fled secretly to Sicily. After concluding peace with Carthage, Agathocles styled himself king of Sicily and established his rule over the Greek cities of the island more firmly than ever. Even in his old age he displayed the same energy and is said to have been meditating a fresh attack on Carthage at the time of his death, which was f ol lowed by a recrudescence of Carthaginian power in Sicily. Agath ocles was something more than the typical leader of mercenaries. He was a born leader, who knew how to inspire devotion.
BIBLIOGRAPHY.-See Justin xxii., xxiii.; Diodorus Siculus xix., xxi., Bibliography.-See Justin xxii., xxiii.; Diodorus Siculus xix., xxi., xxii. (follows generally Timaeus who had a special grudge against Agathocles) ; Polybius ix. 23 ; Schubert, Geschichte des Agathokles 0887) ; Grote, History of Greece, ch. 97; also SICILY: History.