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Agathocles the Sicilian belongs in the Ninth and last Circle of Dante's Inferno. Dante designated that level of hell for the most loathsome of creatures. It was reserved for people like Agathocles who betrayed his own country, kinsmen, and benefactors.
In The Prince, Machiavelli pointed out Agathocles slaughtered senators from his country in order to gain power and become prince. He wasn't motivated by the desire to help his countryman; it was the allure of pure, unadulterated power that prompted him to order his soldiers to kill all the senators and some commoners at a meeting he called.
According to Machiavelli, Agathocles rose from the lowest ranks of society to become King of Syracuse.
“Son of a potter, through all the stages of his fortunes he led a foul life. His vices, however, were conjoined with so great vigour both of mind and body, that becoming a soldier, he rose through the various grades of the service to be Praetor of Syracuse. Once established in that post, he resolved to make himself Prince, and to hold by violence and without obligation to others the authority which had been spontaneously entrusted to him. Accordingly, after imparting his design to Hamilcar, who with the Carthaginian armies was at that time waging war in Sicily, he one morning assembled the people and senate of Syracuse as though to consult with them on matters of public moment, and on a preconcerted signal caused his soldiers to put to death all the senators, and the wealthiest of the commons.”
Machiavelli argues Agathocles did not ascend from favor or fortune, but through the “regular steps of the military service, gained at the cost of a thousand hardships and hazards, he reached the princedom which he afterwards maintained by so many daring and dangerous enterprises. Still, to slaughter fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be devoid of honour, pity, and religion, cannot be counted as merits...” Machiavelli concludes Agathocles was characterized by “unbridled cruelty and inhumanity…[and] countless crimes.”
In the first ring of the Ninth Circle, Dante meets Camiscione dei Pazz, who killed a kinsmen to gain power. Pazz is doomed to the lowest level, while Agathocles killed many more, also garnering himself in the bowels of hell.
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