On the death of Hippocrates, tyrant of Gela (491 BC), Gelo, who had been his commander of cavalry, succeeded him; and in 485 BC, his aid having been invoked by the Gamori (the oligarchical landed proprietors) of Syracuse who had been driven out by the populace, he seized the opportunity of making himself despot.
From this time Gelo paid little attention to Gela, and devoted himself to the aggrandizement of Syracuse, which attained extraordinary wealth and influence. When the Greeks solicited his aid against Xerxes, he refused it, since they would not give him command of the allied forces (Herodotus vii. 171).
In the same year the Carthaginians invaded Sicily, but were totally defeated at Himera, the result of the victory being that Gelo became lord of all Sicily. After he had thus established his power, he made a show of resigning it; but his proposal was rejected by the multitude, and he reigned without opposition until his death in 478 BC.
He was honoured as a hero, and his memory was held in such respect that when all the brazen statues of tyrants were condemned to be sold in the time of Timoleon (150 years later) an exemption was made in favour of the statue of Gelo.
Herodotus vii.; Diod. Sic xi. 20-38.
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.