Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship


Outside of ancient Syracuse on the island of Sicily, there lived a cruel ruler named Dionysius. He trusted no one. Nearby lived two best friends, Damon and Pythias. One day Pythias spoke out against Dionysius, who quickly ordered his execution, to take place in one month. Pythias wanted to return to his elderly parents to say goodbye and arrange for their care. Dionysius laughed, not trusting that Pythias would return. Damon stood up and offered to take Pythias' place until he returned. The ruler agreed only ...
See more details below

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (NOOK Kids - Digital Original)
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.


Outside of ancient Syracuse on the island of Sicily, there lived a cruel ruler named Dionysius. He trusted no one. Nearby lived two best friends, Damon and Pythias. One day Pythias spoke out against Dionysius, who quickly ordered his execution, to take place in one month. Pythias wanted to return to his elderly parents to say goodbye and arrange for their care. Dionysius laughed, not trusting that Pythias would return. Damon stood up and offered to take Pythias' place until he returned. The ruler agreed only after stipulating that if Pythias did not come back, Damon would die instead. When the execution day arrived, Pythias had not returned, but Damon still believed that his friend would be there if he could. Just in time, Pythias ran in, offering up his own life for his friend's.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Bateman breathes new life into this ancient story, and Johnson accents it by stunning paintings. Young readers will be drawn into the Greek legend of the power of friendship, courage and justice. When Pythias spoke out about the harsh ruler Dionysius of Syracuse, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death for treason. Pythias asked one favor before he was to be put to death, to see his elderly parents one last time. So that he could leave jail temporarily, his best friend Damon took his place, vowing to die in Pythias' stead should he fail to return. On the day of the execution, Pythias failed to return at the appointed time. The heartless Dioynsius berated Damon for his foolishness in trusting his friend. But before the order could be carried out, Pythias returned to take his punishment. The tyrant of Syracuse was so overwhelmed by the strength of their friendship that he asked to be part of their bond. Drama and tension will keep readers turning the pages in this exciting tale of friendship put to the ultimate test. It is a fine introduction to heroes of Greek mythology. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4

This classic tale of friendship is set in Sicily in the fourth century B.C.E. Dionysius, a "cruel ruler," surrounds himself with bodyguards, reigns with an iron fist, and sneers at the idea of trusting others. Pythias speaks out publicly against the tyrant and is sentenced to death for treason. The young man's request to journey home to bid his parents farewell is granted only after his good friend Damon steps forward and offers to take Pythias's place in prison, vowing to die in his stead should Pythias not return in a month. The traveler is delayed, and Damon prepares to accept his fate. Pythias arrives just in time, and their heartfelt reunion inspires Dionysius to revoke the sentence and ask the two young men for a "favor": "Might I be the third in your friendship?" Johnson's realistic artwork evokes the setting and time period with rich detail, alternating landscapes and city scenes with close-ups of the characters' faces. The paintings glow with deep apricot and jewel tones, while darker colors underscore powerful emotions. The text reads aloud smoothly with strong dialogue and vivid similes. While Dionysius's instantaneous turnaround from harsh oppressor to humble supplicant might be a bit abrupt and simplistic, it is in the spirit of this ancient fable. Share this offering to launch discussions of friendship, faith, and trust.-Joy Fleishhacker , School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
A tyrant's coldness jeopardizes the lives of two Syracusan youths. In the fourth century BCE, the small island of Sicily is ruled by the Greek commander Dionysus. A ruthless warrior who climbed from the ranks to his current position, he is known for his cruelty and lack of trust; to Dionysus, true friendship is a myth. A brave young man named Pythias speaks out against the tyrant in the marketplace. Getting wind of this, Dionysus arrests him for treason and sentences him to death. Damon offers to take his best friend Pythias's place in prison while Pythias makes the lengthy journey home to say goodbye to his elderly parents. Weeks pass and Pythias does not return; has Damon been a fool for trusting in his friend? The story's ending might surprise young readers. Bateman's retelling of the ancient fable is measured and lucid; Johnson's bright paintings add clarity, though his studied compositions lack movement and his "ragged, travel-worn" Pythias looks a little too clean. An unusual tale to bring to children, but worthwhile. (Picture book. 7-10)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781621278740
  • Publisher: Av2 by Weigl
  • Publication date: 9/28/2013

Read an Excerpt

Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship

By Teresa Bateman


Copyright © 2009 Teresa Bateman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-7647-9


Long ago in Sicily, there lived a cruel ruler named Dionysius. He believed in friendship no more than he believed in mermaids or dragons.

"A friend?" Dionysius said. "A friend is only someone who will trick you into trusting him and then betray that trust."

Dionysius lived in a palace outside the city of Syracuse. Five strong gates and a thousand bodyguards protected him. At night he slept behind a locked door in a bed surrounded by a small moat. It could only be crossed by a drawbridge that he alone controlled.

People called him the Tyrant of Syracuse, and he was known to show no mercy to anyone who spoke against him.

Dionysius did not believe in friendship, but in Syracuse there lived two young men who did. Their names were Damonand Pythias. They were best friends and shared nearly everything, including doubts about their ruler.

One day Pythias gave a speech in the marketplace. He spoke against Dionysius, saying he was a bad ruler.

Suddenly thebodyguards of Dionysius appeared. "Run!" people shouted. "Hide!" But it was already too late. The soldiers marched Pythias off to their master to be sentenced for treason.

Damon joined the crowd following the soldiers. He slipped through the five gates to find a place in the courtyard where he could hear his friend's fate.

"Kneel," commanded Dionysius as the youth was brought before him.

Pythias refused. "I bow only to my betters," he said.

Damon watched in horror as Dionysius' face grew red with anger.

"Am I no better than a peasant?" the ruler demanded. "I will show you my power! I find you guilty of treason. You shall be executed in a month." He turned to the guards. "Take him to prison!"


Excerpted from Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship by Teresa Bateman. Copyright © 2009 Teresa Bateman. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)