Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Of these races then Croesus was informed that the Athenian was held subject and torn with faction by Peisistratos 64 the son of Hippocrates, who then was despot of the Athenians. - EssayAbode

Of these races then Croesus was informed that the Athenian was held subject and torn with faction by Peisistratos 64 the son of Hippocrates, who then was despot of the Athenians.

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59. Of these races then Croesus was informed that the Athenian was held subject

and torn with faction by Peisistratos 64 the son of Hippocrates, who then was despot

of the Athenians. For to Hippocrates, when as a private citizen he went to view the

Olympic games, a great marvel had occurred. After he had offered the sacrifice, the

caldrons which were standing upon the hearth, full of pieces of flesh and of water,

boiled without fire under them and ran over. And Chilon the Lacedemonian, who

chanced to have been present and to have seen the marvel, advised Hippocrates first

not to bring into his house a wife to bear him children, and secondly, if he happened

to have one already, to dismiss her, and if he chanced to have a son, to disown him.

When Chilon had thus recommended, Hippocrates, they say, was not willing to be

persuaded, and so there was born to him afterwards this Peisistratos; who, when the

Athenians of the shore 65 were at feud with those of the plain, Megacles the son of

Alcmaion being leader of the first faction, and Lycurgos the son of Aristolaïdes of

that of the plain, aimed at the despotism for himself and gathered a third party. So

then, after having collected supporters and called himself leader of the men of the

mountain-lands, 66 he contrived a device as follows:—he inflicted wounds upon

himself and upon his mules, and then drove his car into the market-place, as if he

had just escaped from his opponents, who, as he alleged, had desired to kill him

when he was driving into the country: and he asked the commons that he might

obtain some protection from them, for before this he had gained reputation in his

command against the Megarians, during which he took Nisaia and performed other

signal service. And the commons of the Athenians being deceived gave him

those 67 men chosen from the dwellers in the city who became not indeed the spear-

men 68 of Peisistratos but his club-men; for they followed behind him bearing

wooden clubs. And these made insurrection with Peisistratos and obtained

possession of the Acropolis. Then Peisistratos was ruler of the Athenians, not having

disturbed the existing magistrates nor changed the ancient laws; but he administered

the State under that constitution of things which was already established, ordering it

fairly and well.

60. However, no long time after this the followers of Megacles and those of

Lycurgos joined together and drove him forth. Thus Peisistratos had obtained

possession of Athens for the first time, and thus he lost the power before he had it

firmly rooted. But those who had driven out Peisistratos became afterwards at feud

with one another again. And Megacles, harassed by the party strife, 69 sent a

message to Peisistratos asking whether he was willing to have his daughter to wife

on condition of becoming despot. And Peisistratos having accepted the proposal and

made an agreement on these terms, they contrived with a view to his return a device

the most simple by far, as I think, that ever was practised, considering at least that it

was devised at a time when the Hellenic race had been long marked off from the

Barbarian as more skilful and further removed from foolish simplicity, and among

the Athenians who are accounted the first of the Hellenes in ability. 70 In the deme

of Paiania there was a woman whose name was Phya, in height four cubits all but

three fingers, 71 and also fair of form. This woman they dressed in full armour and

caused her to ascend a chariot and showed her the bearing in which she might best

beseem her part, 72 and so they drove to the city, having sent on heralds to run before

them, who, when they arrived at the city, spoke that which had been commanded

them, saying as follows: "O Athenians, receive with favour Peisistratos, whom

Athene herself, honouring him most of all men, brings back to her Acropolis." So

the heralds went about hither and thither saying this, and straightway there came to

the demes in the country round a report that Athene was bringing Peisistratos back,

while at the same time the men of the city, persuaded that the woman was the very

goddess herself, were paying worship to the human creature and receiving


61. So having received back the despotism in the manner which has been said,

Peisistratos according to the agreement made with Megacles married the daughter

of Megacles; but as he had already sons who were young men, and as the

descendants of Alcmaion were said to be under a curse, 73 therefore not desiring

that children should be born to him from his newly-married wife, he had commerce

with her not in the accustomed manner. And at first the woman kept this secret, but

afterwards she told her mother, whether in answer to her inquiry or not I cannot tell;

and the mother told her husband Megacles. He then was very indignant that he

should be dishonoured by Peisistratos; and in his anger straightway he proceeded to

compose his quarrel with the men of his faction. And when Peisistratos heard of that

which was being done against himself, he departed wholly from the land and came

to Eretria, where he took counsel together with his sons: and the advice of Hippias

having prevailed, that they should endeavour to win back the despotism, they began

to gather gifts of money from those States which owed them obligations for favours

received: and many contributed great sums, but the Thebans surpassed the rest in the

giving of money. Then, not to make the story long, time elapsed and at last

everything was prepared for their return. For certain Argives came as mercenaries

from the Peloponnesus, and a man of Naxos had come to them of his own motion,

whose name was Lygdamis, and showed very great zeal in providing both money

and men.

62. So starting from Eretria after the lapse of ten years 74 they returned back; and

in Attica the first place of which they took possession was Marathon. While they

were encamping here, their partisans from the city came to them, and also others

flowed in from the various demes, to whom despotic rule was more welcome than

freedom. So these were gathering themselves together; but the Athenians in the city,

so long as Peisistratos was collecting the money, and afterwards when he took

possession of Marathon, made no account of it; but when they heard that he was

marching from Marathon towards the city, then they went to the rescue against him.

These then were going in full force to fight against the returning exiles, and the

forces of Peisistratos, as they went towards the city starting from Marathon, met

them just when they came to the temple of Athene Pallenis, and there encamped

opposite to them. Then moved by divine guidance 75 there came into the presence

of Peisistratos Amphilytos the Arcarnanian, 76 a soothsayer, who approaching him

uttered an oracle in hexameter verse, saying thus:

"But now the cast hath been made and the net hath been widely


And in the night the tunnies will dart through the moon-

lighted waters."

63. This oracle he uttered to him being divinely inspired, and Peisistratos, having

understood the oracle and having said that he accepted the prophecy which was

uttered, led his army against the enemy. Now the Athenians from the city were just

at that time occupied with the morning meal, and some of them after their meal with

games of dice or with sleep; and the forces of Peisistratos fell upon the Athenians

and put them to flight. Then as they fled, Peisistratos devised a very skilful counsel,

to the end that the Athenians might not gather again into one body but might remain

scattered abroad. He mounted his sons on horseback and sent them before him; and

overtaking the fugitives they said that which was commanded them by Peisistratos,

bidding them be of good cheer and that each man should depart to his own home.

64. Thus then the Athenians did, and so Peisistratos for the third time obtained

possession of Athens, and he firmly rooted his despotism by many foreign

mercenaries and by much revenue of money, coming partly from the land itself and

partly from about the river Strymon, and also by taking as hostages the sons of those

Athenians who had remained in the land and had not at once fled, and placing them

in the hands of Naxos; for this also Peisistratos conquered by war and delivered into

the charge of Lygdamis. Moreover besides this he cleansed the island of Delos in

obedience to the oracles; and his cleansing was of the following kind:—so far as the

view from the temple extended 77 he dug up all the dead bodies which were buried

in this part and removed them to another part of Delos. So Peisistratos was despot

of the Athenians; but of the Athenians some had fallen in the battle, and others of

them with the sons of Alcmaion were exiles from their native land.


Part 13

Such then, were Solon's reasons for his departure from the country. After his

retirement the city was still torn by divisions. For four years, indeed, they lived in

peace; but in the fifth year after Solon's government they were unable to elect an

Archon on account of their dissensions, and again four years later they elected no

Archon for the same reason. Subsequently, after a similar period had elapsed,

Damasias was elected Archon; and he governed for two years and two months,

until he was forcibly expelled from his office. After this, it was agreed, as a

compromise, to elect ten Archons, five from the Eupatridae, three from the

Agroeci, and two from the Demiurgi, and they ruled for the year following

Damasias. It is clear from this that the Archon was at the time the magistrate who

possessed the greatest power, since it is always in connexion with this office that

conflicts are seen to arise. But altogether they were in a continual state of

internal disorder. Some found the cause and justification of their discontent in the

abolition of debts, because thereby they had been reduced to poverty; others

were dissatisfied with the political constitution, because it had undergone a

revolutionary change; while with others the motive was found in

personal rivalries among themselves. The parties at this time were three in

number. First there was the party of the Shore, led by Megacles the son of

Alcmeon, which was considered to aim at a moderate form of government; then

there were the men of the Plain, who desired an oligarchy and were led by

Lycurgus; and thirdly there were the men of the Highlands, at the head of whom

was Pisistratus, who was looked on as an extreme democrat. This latter party was

reinforced by those who had been deprived of the debts due to them, from

motives of poverty, and by those who were not of pure descent, from motives of

personal apprehension. A proof of this is seen in the fact that after the tyranny

was overthrown a revision was made of the citizen-roll, on the ground that many

persons were partaking in the franchise without having a right to it. The names

given to the respective parties were derived from the districts in which they held

their lands.

Part 14

Pisistratus had the reputation of being an extreme democrat, and he also had

distinguished himself greatly in the war with Megara. Taking advantage of this, he

wounded himself, and by representing that his injuries had been inflicted on him

by his political rivals, he persuaded the people, through a motion proposed by

Aristion, to grant him a bodyguard. After he had got these 'club-bearers', as they

were called, he made an attack with them on the people and seized the Acropolis.

This happened in the archonship of Comeas, thirty-one years after the legislation

of Solon. It is related that, when Pisistratus asked for his bodyguard, Solon

opposed the request, and declared that in so doing he proved himself wiser

than half the people and braver than the rest,-wiser than those who did not see

that Pisistratus designed to make himself tyrant, and braver than those who saw

it and kept silence. But when all his words availed nothing he carried forth his

armour and set it up in front of his house, saying that he had helped his country

so far as lay in his power (he was already a very old man), and that he called on all

others to do the same. Solon's exhortations, however, proved fruitless, and

Pisistratus assumed the sovereignty. His administration was more like a

constitutional government than the rule of a tyrant; but before his power was

firmly established, the adherents of Megacles and Lycurgus made a coalition and

drove him out. This took place in the archonship of Hegesias, five years after the

first establishment of his rule. Eleven years later Megacles, being in difficulties in

a party struggle, again opened-negotiations with Pisistratus, proposing that

the latter should marry his daughter; and on these terms he brought him back to

Athens, by a very primitive and simple-minded device. He first spread abroad a

rumour that Athena was bringing back Pisistratus, and then, having found a

woman of great stature and beauty, named Phye (according to Herodotus, of the

deme of Paeania, but as others say a Thracian flower-seller of the deme of

Collytus), he dressed her in a garb resembling that of the goddess and brought

her into the city with Pisistratus. The latter drove in on a chariot with the woman

beside him, and the inhabitants of the city, struck with awe, received him with


Part 15

In this manner did his first return take place. He did not, however, hold his power

long, for about six years after his return he was again expelled. He refused to

treat the daughter of Megacles as his wife, and being afraid, in consequence, of a

combination of the two opposing parties, he retired from the country. First he led

a colony to a place called Rhaicelus, in the region of the Thermaic gulf; and thence

he passed to the country in the neighbourhood of Mt. Pangaeus. Here he

acquired wealth and hired mercenaries; and not till ten years had elapsed did he

return to Eretria and make an attempt to recover the government by force. In this

he had the assistance of many allies, notably the Thebans and Lygdamis of

Naxos, and also the Knights who held the supreme power in the constitution

of Eretria. After his victory in the battle at Pallene he captured Athens, and when

he had disarmed the people he at last had his tyranny securely established, and

was able to take Naxos and set up Lygdamis as ruler there. He effected the

disarmament of the people in the following manner. He ordered a parade in full

armour in the Theseum, and began to make a speech to the people. He spoke for

a short time, until the people called out that they could not hear him, whereupon

he bade them come up to the entrance of the Acropolis, in order that his voice

might be better heard. Then, while he continued to speak to them at great length,

men whom he had appointed for the purpose collected the arms and locked them

up in the chambers of the Theseum hard by, and came and made a signal to him

that it was done. Pisistratus accordingly, when he had finished the rest of what he

had to say, told the people also what had happened to their arms; adding that

they were not to be surprised or alarmed, but go home and attend to their

private affairs, while he would himself for the future manage all the business of

the state.

Part 16

Such was the origin and such the vicissitudes of the tyranny of Pisistratus. His

administration was temperate, as has been said before, and more like

constitutional government than a tyranny. Not only was he in every respect

humane and mild and ready to forgive those who offended, but, in addition, he

advanced money to the poorer people to help them in their labours, so that they

might make their living by agriculture. In this he had two objects, first that they

might not spend their time in the city but might be scattered over all the face of

the country, and secondly that, being moderately well off and occupied with their

own business, they might have neither the wish nor the time to attend to public

affairs. At the same time his revenues were increased by the thorough cultivation

of the country, since he imposed a tax of one tenth on all the produce. For the

same reasons he instituted the local justices,' and often made expeditions in

person into the country to inspect it and to settle disputes between individuals,

that they might not come into the city and neglect their farms. It was in one of

these progresses that, as the story goes, Pisistratus had his adventure with the

man of Hymettus, who was cultivating the spot afterwards known as 'Tax-free

Farm'. He saw a man digging and working at a very stony piece of ground, and

being surprised he sent his attendant to ask what he got out of this plot of land.

'Aches and pains', said the man; 'and that's what Pisistratus ought to have his

tenth of'. The man spoke without knowing who his questioner was; but Pisistratus

was so leased with his frank speech and his industry that he granted him

exemption from all taxes. And so in matters in general he burdened the people as

little as possible with his government, but always cultivated peace and kept

them in all quietness. Hence the tyranny of Pisistratus was often spoken

of proverbially as 'the age of gold'; for when his sons succeeded him

the government became much harsher. But most important of all in this

respect was his popular and kindly disposition. In all things he was accustomed to

observe the laws, without giving himself any exceptional privileges. Once he was

summoned on a charge of homicide before the Areopagus, and he appeared in

person to make his defence; but the prosecutor was afraid to present himself and

abandoned the case. For these reasons he held power long, and whenever he was

expelled he regained his position easily. The majority alike of the upper class and

of the people were in his favour; the former he won by his social intercourse with

them, the latter by the assistance which he gave to their private purses, and his

nature fitted him to win the hearts of both. Moreover, the laws in reference to

tyrants at that time in force at Athens were very mild, especially the one

which applies more particularly to the establishment of a tyranny. The law ran as

follows: 'These are the ancestral statutes of the Athenians; if any persons shall

make an attempt to establish a tyranny, or if any person shall join in setting up a

tyranny, he shall lose his civic rights, both himself and his whole house.'

Part 17

Thus did Pisistratus grow old in the possession of power, and he died a natural

death in the archonship of Philoneos, three and thirty years from the time at

which he first established himself as tyrant, during nineteen of which he was in

possession of power; the rest he spent in exile. It is evident from this that the

story is mere gossip which states that Pisistratus was the youthful favourite of

Solon and commanded in the war against Megara for the recovery of Salamis. It

will not harmonize with their respective ages, as any one may see who will reckon

up the years of the life of each of them, and the dates at which they died. After

the death of Pisistratus his sons took up the government, and conducted it on the

same system. He had two sons by his first and legitimate wife, Hippias and

Hipparchus, and two by his Argive consort, Iophon and Hegesistratus, who was

surnamed Thessalus. For Pisistratus took a wife from Argos, Timonassa, the

daughter of a man of Argos, named Gorgilus; she had previously been the wife

of Archinus of Ambracia, one of the descendants of Cypselus. This was the origin

of his friendship with the Argives, on account of which a thousand of them were

brought over by Hegesistratus and fought on his side in the battle at Pallene.

Some authorities say that this marriage took place after his first expulsion from

Athens, others while he was in possession of the government.


Greece in its world

Let’s start with an important representation of Greek and Persian:

What does this indicate about how the Greeks viewed the Persians?

We do know how ordinary Persians dressed because of a mummy preserved in salt:

They dress quite differently from the Greeks largely because they were originally nomadic herders. Hence they wore trousers.

The Greeks thought that trousers were effeminate.

The Persians are related to the peoples who settled in India. They spoke an Indo-European language.

The development of the Greek polises or city states took place in a world in which ‘civilisations’ had been in existence for about 2,500 years.

What do we mean by civilisation?

Urban concentration of population, political centralisation, developed religion that distinguishes between the ‘up there’ and the ‘down here’, systematic warfare, hierarchy and inequality, monumental architecture, production of a surplus sufficient to support the above.

All of this followed from the development of agriculture that transformed not just food production but the way in which people viewed the world.

Maissels: development of four major agrarian civilisations from about 3,000 BCE. These were Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus valley, China: they all developed in different ways.

Two civilisations are of significance for Greece: Mesopotamia and Egypt.


Egypt: unified about 3100 BC along the Nile River.

  • Based on irrigation using water from the river.
  • Centralised bureaucratic empire run by a divine king, and for a long time largely insulated from the outside world.
  • Only with the New Kingdom after 1550 BC did the Egyptians become an aggressive military power that they conquered an empire in Palestine and Syria.


Southern Iraq, Sumer, saw the rise of collection of some 35 city states around 2800 BC.