The KISS Printable Books Page
Damon and Pythias
from - Golden Deeds:
Stories from History Retold for Little Folk
London: Blackie and Son Limited
Directions: Your teacher may ask you to write your own version of this story, in class, in as much detail as you can, without looking at the text. You should therefore read the story more than once. You can make a list of the names of people and places. You can use that list when you write your version of the story.

     The city of Syracuse was once ruled over by a clever but very cruel man called Dionysius. Perhaps he would not have been so harsh and cruel if he had been able to trust his people; but he knew that the Syracusans hated him. It happened that he once suspected a certain Greek called Pythias, and his anger was so terrible that he sentenced the unfortunate man to death. Pythias begged to be allowed to go and bid his relations in the country farewell, promising to return at a given time to suffer the death to which he had been condemned. Dionysius laughed his request to scorn, saying that once he was safely out of Syracuse it was not likely he would ever return to die. Pythias replied that he had a friend, named Damon, who would be answerable for his return at the given time. Damon then came forward and swore that if Pythias did not keep his word, he himself would suffer death in his stead. Dionysius consented to let Pythias go.
     Time went on and the day fixed for his return drew near, but still he did not come. The Syracusans told Damon that he would have to die for his faithless friend, but Damon showed no anxiety. At length the very day and hour upon which the condemned man was to die came round. But a few minutes before the fatal time Pythias rushed in, and having warmly embraced his friend, he went forward to take his place. Dionysius was so struck by the conduct of the two men that he pardoned Pythias, and calling him and Damon to his side he entreated them to allow him to be a third in their friendship.