|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.