In early times, when the same man combined in his person the offices of demagogue and general, democracies changed into tyrannies. Most of the early tyrants were men who had first been demagogues . . . . Today, with the growth of the art of rhetoric, men with the gift of speech are the men who make themselves demagogues; but men of this type, unversed in war, make no attempt at becoming tyrants–though here and there a case may have occurred. Another reason why tyrannies were more frequent in earlier times is that great offices were then entrusted to individuals. The tyranny [of Thrasyboulos] at Miletus, for example, was to to his holding the office of prytanis, which carried a number of important prerogatives. A further reason is the smaller size of the cities of earlier times. The people generally lived in the country, occupied with the daily duties of their farms; and their leaders, when they were men of military capacity, had thus the chance of establishing a tyranny. They generally did so on the strength of popular confidence; and the basis of this confidence was the hostility they showed to the wealthy. Thus at Athens Peisistratos rose to be tyrant by leading a rising against the Party of the Plain . . . .
Still another line of policy [for tyrants who want to preserve their rule] is to sow mutual distrust and to foster discord between friend and friend; between people and notables; between one section of the rich and another. Finally, a policy pursued by tyrants is that of impoverishing their subjects–partly to prevent them from having the means of maintaining a civic guard; partly to keep them so busy in earning a daily pittance that they have no time for plotting. One example of this policy is the building of the Egyptian pyramids; another is the lavish offerings to temples made by the family of the Cypselids; a third is the erection of the Temple of Olympian Zeus by the family of Peisistratos; a fourth is the additions made by Polykrates to the Samian monuments . . . .
The third tyranny in point of length was that of the family of Peisistratos at Athens; but this was not continuous. Peisistratos was expelled twice during the course of his reign, and was only tyrant for seventeen years in a period of thirty-three; his sons between them ruled for eighteen years; and the whole reign of the family was thus confined to a period of thirty-five years.
SOCRATES: Hush! Hush! Why, surely, it would be wrong of me not to obey a good and wise person.
FRIEND: Who is that? And to what are you referring now?
SOCRATES: I mean my and your fellow citizen, Peisistratos' son Hipparchos, of Philaidai, who was the eldest and wisest of Peisistratos' sons, and who, among the many other goodly proofs of wisdom that he showed, first brought the poems of Homer into this country of ours, and compelled the rhapsodes at the Panathenaia to recite them in relay, one man following another, as they still do now. He dispatched a fifty-oared galley for Anacreon of Teos, and brought him into our city. Simonides of Keos he always had about him, prevailing on him by plenteous fees and gifts . . . .
The Athenians themselves, however, think that this is an idle tale, and say that Solon proved to the judges that Philaios and Eurysaces, the sons of Ajax, became citizens of Athens, made over their island [Salamis] to them, and took up their residence in Attika, one at Brauron and the other at Melite; and they have a demos named after Philaios, Philaidai, to which Peisistratos belonged . . . .
And assuredly the Lacedaemonians would never have taken the Peisistratid stronghold for they had no mind to blockade it, and the Peisistratidai were well furnished with food and drink; and the Lacedaemonians would but have besieged the place for a few days and then returned to Sparta. But as it was, there befell a turn of fortune that harmed the one party and helped the other, for the sons of the Peisistratid family were taken as they were being secretly removed from the country. This made all their plans to be confounded, and they submitted to depart out of Attica within five days on the terms prescribed to them by the Athenians, in return for the recovery of their children. Presently they departed to Sigeion, on the Scamander. They had ruled Athens for thirty-six years. They too were in lineage Pyleans and Neleidai, born of the same ancestors as the families of Kodros and Melanthos, who earlier had been wanderers and became kings of Athens. Thus it was that Hippokrates have his son the name of Peisistratos as a remembrance, calling him after Peisistratos the son of Nestor.
Now, of these two peoples, Croesus learned that the Attic was held in subjection and divided into factions by Peisistratos son of Hippokrates, who at that time was the Tyrant of Athens. This Hippokrates was only a private citizen when a great marvel happened to him at Olympia, when he was there to see the games . . . . Chilon the Lakedaimonian [floruit 556 B.C.] happened to be there . . . . In the course of time there was a feud between the Athenians of the coast under Megakles son of Alkmaion, and the Athenians of the plain under Lykourgos the son of Aristolaides. Peisistratos, then, with a view toward tyranny, raised up a third party. He collected partisans and pretended to champion the hyperakrioi . And this was his plan: wounding himself and his mules . . . .; and indeed he had won himself a reputation in his command of the army against the Megarians, when he had taken Nisaia and performed other great exploits . . . these club men with Peisistratos rose and seized the Akropolis. Then Peisistratos ruled the Athenians, disturbing in no way the order of offices nor changing the laws, but governing the city according to its established constitution and ordering all things fairly and well. (60) But after no long time the faction of Megakles and the faction of Lykourgos made common cause and drove him out. Thus did Peisistratos first win Athens, and thus did he lose his tyranny, which was not deeply rooted. . . .
Now when Peisistratos, after inflicting a wound upon himself, came into the market-place riding in a zeugos, and he tried to exasperate the Demos with the charge that his enemies had plotted against him on account of the politeia, and many received this statement with anger and cries, Solon came up to him and confronted him, saying, "Son of Hippokrates, you are acting the part of Homer's Odysseus. For when he disfigured himself it was to deceive his enemies, but you are doing it to mislead your fellow citizens." After this, the plethos was ready to fight for Peisistratos, and an ekklesia of the Demos assembled. When Ariston made a motion (graphé) that a guard of fifty korynephoroi should be given to Peisistratos, Solon stood up and opposed the motion and said many things like what he wrote in his poems . . . . But when he saw that the penetai were tumultuously bent on gratifying Peisistratos, while the plousioi were fearfully slinking away from any conflict with him, he left the meeting, saying that he was wiser than the one party and braver than the other . . . . So the Demos passed the psephisma , but held him to no strict account of the actual number of his bodyguard of korynephoroi, but allowed him to keep and lead around as many as he wanted, and at last he seized the Akropolis. When this had been done, and the City was in an uproar, Megakles along with the rest of the Alkmaionidai fled . . . .
Solon's mother, according to Herakleides Pontikos, was a cousin of the mother of Peisistratos. And the two men were at first great friends, largely because of their kinship, and largely because of the youthful beauty of Peisistratos, with whom, as some say, Solon was passionately in love. . . . And it is said that Peisistratos also was the erastes of Charmos, and that he dedicated the statue of Eros in the Akademeia, where the men who run the sacred torch race get their fire.
[See F. Wehrli, Herakleides Pontikos (Basel 1953); FHG II, p. 198.]
[speaking of Hysiai, near Argos:] Why the place received this name they do not say. Perhaps in this case also it was Chechrias, son of Peirene, that caused it to be so called. Here are the common graves of the Argives who conquered the Lakedaimonians in battle at Hysiai. This fight took place, I discovered, when Peisistratos was archon at Athens, in the fourth year of the [twenty-seventh] Olympiad, in which the Athenian Eurybotas won the foot-race.
[Cf. Eusebius Chronikon , under Olympiad 27: Eurybos the Athenian.]
[See T. J. Cadoux, Journal of Hellenic Studies 68 (1949) 75, 90]
. . . the third group was the party of the Uplands [ diakrioi ], who were led by Peisistratos, and he seemed to be the most democratic leader . . . .
Peisistratos had the reputation of being a strong supporter of the Demos, and had distinguished himself in the war against Megara. He wounded himself, and persuaded the Demos that his political opponents had done it, with the result that they voted him a bodyguard on the proposal of Aristion. with the assistance of these Korynephoroi he rose against the Demos and seized the Akropolis, in the thirty-second year after the Nomothesia of Solon, which was the Archonship of Komeas . . . .
However, when the tyranny had not yet had time to take root, the groups led by Megakles and Lykourgos combined to expel him, in the Archonship of Hegesias, which was the sixth year after he first took power.
In the twelfth year after this, Megakles was hard pressed by dissensions, and opened negotiations with Peisistratos; having agreed that Peisistratos would marry his daughter, he grought him back by a primitive and very simple ruse. Having spread a rumor that Athena was bringing Peisistratos back home, he found a tall and beautiful woman called Phye, whom herodotus says came from Paiania, bot other say was a Thracian flower girl [ stephanepolos ] from Kollytos, dressed her as Athena, and brought her into the city with Peisistratos. Peisistratos rode in a chariot [harma] with the woman beside him, and the inhabitants fell to the ground and accepted him with awe. (15.1) Peisistratos returned to Athens for the first time in this way.
He was expelled for a second time in about the seventh year after his return. He did not keep his position for a long time, but, being afraid of both groups because he did not want to treat Megakles' daughter as his wife, retired abroad. First he joined the foundation of a place called Rhaekelos near the Thermaic Gulf, and then he moved ot the area around Mt. Pangaion. He grew wealthy there and hired mercenaries, and so came to Eretria and made his first attempt to recover the tyranny by force, in the eleventh year after his expulsion. He received wide support, and in particular that of the Thebans, of Lygdamis of Naxos, and of the Hippeis who controlled affairs in Eretria. After winning the battle of Pallene, he took Athens, disarmed the people, and established his tyranny on a firm basis. He also took Naxos and established Lygdamis as Tyrant. He disarmed the Athenians in the following way. During the review of the people in full armor at the Theseum, he began to address the crowd, and spoke for a short while. When they said that they could not hear him, he told them to come up to the gate of the Akropolis where he would be more audible. While he continued his speech, a group who had been specially detailed for the purpose, collected the people's weapons and locked them in the buildings of the Theseum, near by. When they had finished, they signalled to Peisistratos. When he had concluded his speech, he told the crowd not to be surprised or alarmed by what had happened to their weapons; they should go home and look after their private affairs–he would look after the State.
The working of the land increased his revenues, for he took a ten percent tax on produce. He also had the same motive for establishing the magistrates of the demes [kata demas dikastai] and for travelling around the countryside frequently, inspecting and settling disputes. It made it unnecessary for the people to come into the city and neglect their work . . . .
. . . he was naturally inclined to support the common people and was benevolent . . . . He was supported by the majority of both nobles and the common people; he attracted the former by his association with them, and the latter by the assistance he gave them in their personal affairs; he was liked by both.
Athenian laws about tyranny were mild at the time, and in particular the law about the establishment of a tyrant, which ran as follows:
This is the law and traditional practice of the Athenians: Any man who attempts to establish,
or aids in the establishment of, tyranny shall lose his citizenship along with his family.
. . . he died in the Archonship of Philoneos, having lived for thirty-three years since he first set himself up as tyrant, and having ruled for nineteen of those years . . . .
After Peisistratos' death, his sons ruled and conducted affairs in the same way. . . .
Thus this design came to nothing, and Hippias was compelled to depart [from Corinth]. Amyntas, the king of the Makedonians, would have given him Anthemos and the Thessalians Iolkos, but he would have neither, and withdrew to Sigeion, which Peisistratos had taken at spear's point from the Mytileneans, and when he had won it, set up as tyrant his own bastard son of an Argive woman, Hegestratos. But Hegestratos did not keep what Peisistratos had given him without a fight; for the Mytileneans and Athenians waged war for a long time from the city of Akhilleion and Sigeion, with the Mytileneans demanding the place back and the Athenians refusing, but bringing proof to show that the Aeolians had no more part or lot in the land of Ilion than they themselves and whatever other Greeks had helped Menelaos to avenge the rape of Helen.
John Paul Adams, CSUN