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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



1218
Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 16-19


nanThe tyranny of Peisistratus was at first established in this way, and experienced the changes just enumerated. As we have said, Peisistratus administered the government with moderation, and more like a citizen than a tyrant. For, in applying the laws, he was humane and mild, and towards offenders clement, and, further, he used to advance money to the needy for their agricultural operations, thus enabling them to carry on the cultivation of their lands uninterruptedly. And this he did with two objects: that they might not live in the city, but being scattered over the country, and enjoying moderate means and engaged in their own affairs, they might have neither the desire nor the leisure to concern themselves with public matters. At the same time he had the advantage of a greater revenue from the careful cultivation of the land; for he took a tithe of the produce. It was for this reason, too, that he instituted jurors throughout the demes, and often, leaving the capital, made tours in the country, seeing matters for himself, and reconciling such as had differences, so that they might have no occasion to come to the city and neglect their lands. It was on such a tour that the incident is said to have occurred about the man in Hymettus, who was cultivating what was afterwards called the 'No-Tax-Land.' For seeing a man delving at rocks with a wooden peg and working away, he wondered at his using such a tool, and bade his attendants ask what the spot produced. 'Every ill and every woe under the sun,' replied the man, 'and Peisistratus must take his tithe of these ills and these woes.' Now, the man made this answer not knowing who he was; but Peisistratus, pleased at his boldness of speech and love of work, gave him immunity from all taxes. And he never interfered with the people in any other way indeed during his rule, but ever cultivated peace and watched over it in times of tranquillity. And this is the reason why it often passed as a proverb that the tyranny of Peisistratus was the life of the Golden Age; for it came to pass afterwards, through the insolence of his sons, that the government became much harsher. But what more than any other of his qualities made him a favourite was his popular sympathies and kindness of disposition. For while in all other matters it was his custom to govern entirely according to the laws, so he never allowed himself any unfair advantage, and on one occasion when he was cited before the Areopagus on a charge of murder, he appeared himself in his own defence, and his accuser, getting frightened, withdrew from the suit. It was for such reasons also, that he remained tyrant for a long period, and when he lost his power easily recovered it again; for most of the upper classes and of the popular side desired it, since he helped the one by his intercourse with them, and the other by his assistance in their private affairs, and from his natural disposition could adapt himself to both. The laws of the Athenians regarding tyrants were mild in these times, all of them, and particularly the one relating to any attempt at tyranny, for their law stood as follows: 'These are the ordinances of the Athenians, inherited from their fathers: whoever rises up to make himself a tyrant, or assists in establishing a tyranny, shall be deprived of his political rights, both himself and his family.'


nanSo Peisistratus retained his power till he became an old man and fell sick and died during the archonship of Philoneos, having lived three-and-thirty years from the time that he first established himself as tyrant. Of this period he continued in power nineteen years, for he was in exile the remainder of the time. It is evident therefore that they talk nonsense who assert that Peisistratus was beloved of Solon, and that he was general in the war with the Megarians about Salamis; for it is impossible from their respective ages, if one calculates how long either lived, and during whose archonship he died. After the death of Peisistratus, his sons held sovereign power, conducting the government in the same way. There were two sons by his wife, Hippias and Hipparchus, and two by the Argive woman, Tophon and Hegesistratus, otherwise called Thessalus. For Peisistratus married from Argos, Timonassa, the daughter of an Argive, whose name was Gorgilus, whom Archinus, the Ambraciot of the Kypselidae, previously had to wife. From this union arose his friendship with the Argives, and they fought on his side to the number of a thousand at the battle of Pallene, Peisistratus having brought them with him. Some say that he married his Argive wife during his first exile, others that he did so when he was in possession of his power.


nanHippias and Hipparchus were at the head of affairs by right of their claims and their ages; Hippias, being the elder, and by nature fitted for state affairs, and endowed with good sense, presided over the government. But Hipparchus was fond of trifling, amorous, and a votary of the Muses; it was he who sent for Anacreon and Simonides, and the rest of the poets, with their companions. Thessalus was much younger, and in his manner of life overbearing and insolent. And from him came the beginning of all their ills. For being enamoured of Harmodius, and meeting with no response to his affection, he could not restrain his wrath, but took every opportunity of displaying the bitterness of his hatred. At last, when Harmodius' sister was going to act as basket-bearer in the Panathenaea, he forbade her, and made use of some abusive expressions about Harmodius being a coward, the result of which was that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were incited to do their deed in conjunction with many of their fellow-citizens. The celebration of the Panathenaea was proceeding, and they were lying in wait for Hippias on the Acropolis (now, he happened to be following whilst Hipparchus was getting the procession ready), when they saw one of their fellow-conspirators in friendly conversation with Hippias; thinking that he was turning informer, and wishing to do something before they were arrested, they descended from the Acropolis, and without waiting for the rest of the conspirators, killed Hipparchus by the Leokoreion as he was arranging the procession. Thus they ruined the whole plot, and of their number Harmodius was straightway killed by the spearmen, and Aristogeiton was subsequently apprehended, and for a long time subjected to outrage. When he was put to the torture he accused many who were both of illustrious birth and friendly to the tyrants. For it was impossible on the spot to get any clue to the affair, and the story that is told how Hippias disarmed those who were taking part in the procession, and thus caught such as had daggers upon them, is not true; for at that time armed men did not take part in the procession, and the practice was introduced by the people in after-times. And he accused the friends of the tyrants, as the popular side say, on purpose that they might commit an act of impiety, and show their baseness by destroying the guiltless and their own friends; but some say, on the other hand, that it was not an invention on his part, but he informed against such as were actually privy to the plot. And at last, when he was unable, do what he would, to compass his death, he promised to reveal many others, and persuading Hippias to give him his right hand as a pledge of his good faith, as he held it he reviled him for giving his right hand to the murderer of his brother, and so exasperated Hippias that he could not restrain his rage, but drew his sword and despatched him on the spot.


nanIn consequence of these events the tyranny became much harsher; for both by the vengeance he had taken for his brother, and his many executions and banishments, Hippias had made himself an object of distrust and bitter hatred to all. And about the fourth year after the death of Hipparchus, when things were going badly with him in the city, he took in hand the fortification of Munychia, with the intention of shifting his residence to that quarter. Whilst he was engaged in this work he was driven out by Kleomenes, King of Lacedemon, as the Laconians were perpetually receiving oracles inciting them to put an end to the tyranny for the following reason. The exiles, at the head of whom were the Alkmaeonidae, were not able by their own unassisted efforts to effect their return, but failed in every attempt; for they were unsuccessful in their intrigues in every instance, and when they fortified Lipsydrium by Parnes, in Attica, where some of their partizans in the city came to join them, they were forced to surrender by the tyrants; hence in later days after this calamity, they used always to sing in their banquet-songs: 'Woe! woe! Lipsydrium, betrayer of thy fellows, What men hast thou destroyed Good to fight and good to their native land, Who then showed of what fathers they were come.' Failing, then, in all their attempts, they contracted to build the temple at Delphi, by which means they became well supplied with money for procuring the help of the Laconians. For the Pythia was always ordering the Lacedemonians, when they consulted the oracle, to make Athens free. To this it directly incited the Spartiatae, although the Peisistratidae were their friends. And the friendship that subsisted between the Argives and the Peisistratidae contributed in no less degree to the eagerness of the Laconians. At first, then, they despatched Anchimolus with a force by sea. And after his defeat and death, owing to Kineas the Thessalian having come to the help of the Peisistratidae with a thousand horse, being further angered by this incident, they despatched Kleomenes their king with a larger force by land. He first gained a victory over the Thessalian horse as they were trying to prevent him from entering Attica, and then shutting up Hippias in what is called the Pelasgic fort, he began to besiege him in conjunction with the Athenians. And as he was blockading it, the sons of the Peisistratidae happened to be taken prisoners when making a sally. Under these circumstances the Peisistratidae came to an agreement, stipulating for the safety of their children; and having conveyed away their property within five days, they handed over the Acropolis to the Athenians in the archonship of Harpaktides (511/10 BCE), having held the tyranny after the death of their father about seventeen years, the whole period, including that of their father's power, amounting to forty-nine years.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

3 results
1. Thucydides, The History of The Peloponnesian War, 1.20.2, 1.89, 1.100, 1.108, 1.126.3-1.126.12, 6.54-6.59, 8.48-8.49, 8.52-8.56, 8.65-8.69, 8.81-8.82, 8.84, 8.86, 8.89, 8.97 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

1.20.2. The general Athenian public fancy that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton; not knowing that Hippias, the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and that Hipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers; and that Harmodius and Aristogiton suspecting, on the very day, nay at the very moment fixed on for the deed, that information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned, and did not attack him, yet, not liking to be apprehended and risk their lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus near the temple of the daughters of Leos, and slew him as he was arranging the Panathenaic procession. 1.126.6. Whether the grand festival that was meant was in Attica or elsewhere was a question which he never thought of, and which the oracle did not offer to solve. For the Athenians also have a festival which is called the grand festival of Zeus Meilichios or Gracious, viz. the Diasia. It is celebrated outside the city, and the whole people sacrifice not real victims but a number of bloodless offerings peculiar to the country. However, fancying he had chosen the right time, he made the attempt. 1.126.7. As soon as the Athenians perceived it, they flocked in, one and all, from the country, and sat down, and laid siege to the citadel.
2. Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 10-13, 17-19, 2, 20-21, 23-28, 3, 34-41, 5-9, 1 (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

3. Anon., Letter of Aristeas, 108-111, 15-16, 107

107. are bound by the rules of purity, lest they should touch anything which is unlawful. It was not without reason that the original founders of the city built it in due proportions, for they possessed clear insight with regard to what was required. For the country is extensive and beautiful. Some parts of it are level, especially the districts which belong to Samaria, as it is called, and which border on the land of the Idumeans, other parts are mountainous, especially (those which are contiguous to the land of Judea). The people therefore are bound to devote themselves to agriculture and the cultivation of the soil that by this means they may have a plentiful supply of crops. In this way


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
alexandria, capital of ptolemaic egypt Stavrianopoulou, Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period: Narrations, Practices and Images (2013) 227
alexandria Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
aristotle Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671; Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
athenaion politeia Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
athens Stavrianopoulou, Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period: Narrations, Practices and Images (2013) 227; Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
decree/s, edict, memoranda (prostagma) Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
diodorus siculus Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
jerusalem Stavrianopoulou, Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period: Narrations, Practices and Images (2013) 227; Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
judaeans, of alexandria Stavrianopoulou, Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period: Narrations, Practices and Images (2013) 227
judea Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
king Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
oenophyta Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
oligarchic conspiracy/revolution (nan' Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
peisistratos, tyrant Stavrianopoulou, Shifting Social Imaginaries in the Hellenistic Period: Narrations, Practices and Images (2013) 227
peisistratus Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
philosophy peripatetic/aristotelean Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
ps.-aristeas Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
ptolemy ii philadelphus Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
taxes Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224
thucydides, son of melesias, manuscript traditionnan Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
tyrant Wright, The Letter of Aristeas: 'Aristeas to Philocrates' or 'On the Translation of the Law of the Jews' (2015) 224