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In 400 B. C., Pythias travels from Athens to Syracuse to persuade the philosopher Arcanos to come to Athens and teach the Pythagorean theory of the brotherhood of man. Arcanos has been forced into hiding by the tyrant Dionysius the Elder, who is opposed to a doctrine that forbids violence and killing. In Syracuse, Pythias hires Damon, an adventurous outlaw, to help in the search. At first Damon betrays Pythias, but when the latter refuses to do him harm, Damon helps Arcanos escape from the Storian Guard. Arcanos and Damon reach safety, but Pythias is captured and sentenced to death. Damon then offers himself as a substitute if Dionysius will permit Pythias to pay a farewell visit to Nerissa, his pregnant wife. The tyrant accepts the proposition, although he does not intend to allow Pythias to leave. Aided by Damon's band of robbers, however, Pythias overcomes Dionysius' men and returns to Syracuse. Deeply moved by such loyalty, the citizens of Syracuse force Dionysius to spare the lives of both men.