translated by George Rawlinson

Book V

Having thus related the dream which Hipparchus saw, and traced the descent of the Gephyraeans, the family whereto his murderers belonged, I must proceed with the matter whereof I was intending before to speak; to wit, the way in which the Athenians got quit of their tyrants. Upon the death of Hipparchus, Hippias, who was king, grew harsh towards the Athenians; and the Alcaeonidae, an Athenian family which had been banished by the Pisistratidae, joined the other exiles, and endeavoured to procure their own return, and to free Athens, by force. They seized and fortified Leipsydrium above Paeonia, and tried to gain their object by arms; but great disasters befell them, and their purpose remained unaccomplished. They therefore resolved to shrink from no contrivance that might bring them success; and accordingly they contracted with the Amphictyons to build the temple which now stands at Delphi, but which in those days did not exist. Having done this, they proceeded, being men of great wealth and members of an ancient and distinguished family, to build the temple much more magnificently than the plan obliged them. Besides other improvements, instead of the coarse stone whereof by the contract the temple was to have been constructed, they made the facings of Parian marble.

These same men, if we may believe the Athenians, during their stay at Delphi persuaded the Pythoness by a bribe to tell the Spartans, whenever any of them came to consult the oracle, either on their own private affairs or on the business of the state, that they must free Athens. So the Lacedaemonians, when they found no answer ever returned to them but this, sent at last Anchimolius, the son of Aster—a man of note among their citizens—at the head of an army against Athens, with orders to drive out the Pisistratidae, albeit they were bound to them by the closest ties of friendship. For they esteemed the things of heaven more highly than the things of men. The troops went by sea and were conveyed in transports. Anchimolius brought them to an anchorage at Phalerum; and there the men disembarked. But the Pisistratidae, who had previous knowledge of their intentions, had sent to Thessaly, between which country and Athens there was an alliance, with a request for aid. The Thessalians, in reply to their entreaties, sent them by a public vote 1000 horsemen, under the command of their king, Cineas, who was a Coniaean. When this help came, the Pisistratidae laid their plan accordingly: they cleared the whole plain about Phalerum so as to make it fit for the movements of cavalry, and then charged the enemy’s camp with their horse, which fell with such fury upon the Lacedaemonians as to kill numbers, among the rest Anchimolius, the general, and to drive the remainder to their ships. Such was the fate of the first army sent from Lacedaemon, and the tomb of Anchimolius may be seen to this day in Attica; it is at Alopecae (Foxtown), near the temple of Hercules in Cynosargos.

Afterwards, the Lacedaemonians despatched a larger force against Athens, which they put under the command of Cleomenes, son of Anaxandridas, one of their kings. These troops were not sent by sea, but marched by the mainland. When they were come into Attica, their first encounter was with the Thessalian horse, which they shortly put to flight, killing above forty men; the remainder made good their escape, and fled straight to Thessaly. Cleomenes proceeded to the city, and, with the aid of such of the Athenians as wished for freedom, besieged the tyrants, who had shut themselves up in the Pelasgic fortress.

And now there had been small chance of the Pisistratidae falling into the hands of the Spartans, who did not even design to sit down before the place, which had moreover been well provisioned beforehand with stores both of meat and drink,—nay, it is likely that after a few days’ blockade the Lacedaemonians would have quitted Attica altogether, and gone back to Sparta—had not an event occurred most unlucky for the besieged, and most advantageous for the besiegers. The children of the Pisistratidae were made prisoners, as they were being removed out of the country. By this calamity all their plans were deranged, and-as the ransom of their children—they consented to the demands of the Athenians, and agreed within five days’ time to quit Attica. Accordingly they soon afterwards left the country, and withdrew to Sigeum on the Scamander, after reigning thirty-six years over the Athenians. By descent they were Pylians, of the family of the Neleids, to which Codrus and Melanthus likewise belonged, men who in former times from foreign settlers became kings of Athens. And hence it was that Hippocrates came to think of calling his son Pisistratus: he named him after the Pisistratus who was a son of Nestor. Such then was the mode in which the Athenians got quit of their tyrants. What they did and suffered worthy of note from the time when they gained their freedom until the revolt of Ionia from King Darius, and the coming of Aristagoras to Athens with a request that the Athenians would lend the Ionians aid, I shall now proceed to relate.

The power of Athens had been great before; but, now that the tyrants were gone, it became greater than ever. The chief authority was lodged with two persons, Clisthenes, of the family of the Alcmaeonids, who is said to have been the persuader of the Pythoness, and Isagoras, the son of Tisander, who belonged to a noble house, but whose pedigree I am not able to trace further. Howbeit his kinsmen offer sacrifice to the Carian Jupiter. These two men strove together for the mastery; and Clisthenes, finding himself the weaker, called to his aid the common people. Hereupon, instead of the four tribes among which the Athenians had been divided hitherto, Clisthenes made ten tribes, and parcelled out the Athenians among them. He likewise changed the names of the tribes; for whereas they had till now been called after Geleon, Aegicores, Argades, and Hoples, the four sons of Ion, Clisthenes set these names aside, and called his tribes after certain other heroes, all of whom were native, except Ajax. Ajax was associated because, although a foreigner, he was a neighbour and an ally of Athens.

My belief is that in acting thus he did but imitate his maternal grandfather, Clisthenes, king of Sicyon. This king, when he was at war with Argos, put an end to the contests of the rhapsodists at Sicyon, because in the Homeric poems Argos and the Argives were so constantly the theme of song. He likewise conceived the wish to drive Adrastus, the son of Talaus, out of his country, seeing that he was an Argive hero. For Adrastus had a shrine at Sicyon, which yet stands in the market-place of the town. Clisthenes therefore went to Delphi, and asked the oracle if he might expel Adrastus. To this the Pythoness is reported to have answered—“Adrastus is the Sicyonians’ king, but thou art only a robber.” So when the god would not grant his request, he went home and began to think how he might contrive to make Adrastus withdraw of his own accord. After a while he hit upon a plan which he thought would succeed. He sent envoys to Thebes in Boeotia, and informed the Thebans that he wished to bring Melanippus, the son of Astacus, to Sicyon. The Thebans consenting, Clisthenes carried Melanippus back with him, assigned him a precinct within the government-house, and built him a shrine there in the safest and strongest part. The reason for his so doing (which I must not forbear to mention) was because Melanippus was Adrastus’ great enemy, having slain both his brother Mecistes and his son-in-law Tydeus. Clisthenes, after assigning the precinct to Melanippus, took away from Adrastus the sacrifices and festivals wherewith he had till then been honoured, and transferred them to his adversary. Hitherto the Sicyonians had paid extraordinary honours to Adrastus, because the country had belonged to Polybus, and Adrastus was Polybus’ daughter’s son; whence it came to pass that Polybus, dying childless, left Adrastus his kingdom. Besides other ceremonies, it had been their wont to honour Adrastus with tragic choruses, which they assigned to him rather than Bacchus, on account of his calamities. Clisthenes now gave the choruses to Bacchus, transferring to Melanippus the rest of the sacred rites.

Such were his doings in the matter of Adrastus. With respect to the Dorian tribes, not choosing the Sicyonians to have the same tribes as the Argives, he changed all the old names for new ones; and here he took special occasion to mock the Sicyonians, for he drew his new names from the words “pig,” and “ass,” adding thereto the usual tribe-endings; only in the case of his own tribe he did nothing of the sort, but gave them a name drawn from his own kingly office. For he called his own tribe the Archelai, or Rulers, while the others he named Hyatae, or Pig-folk, Oneatae, or Assfolk, and Choereatae, or Swine-folk. The Sicyonians kept these names, not only during the reign of Clisthenes, but even after his death, by the space of sixty years: then, however, they took counsel together, and changed to the well-known names of Hyllaeans, Pamphylians, and Dymanatae, taking at the same time, as a fourth name, the title of Aegialeans, from Aegialeus the son of Adrastus.

Thus had Clisthenes the Sicyonian done. The Athenian Clisthenes, who was grandson by the mother’s side of the other, and had been named after him, resolved, from contempt (as I believe) of the Ionians, that his tribes should not be the same as theirs; and so followed the pattern set him by his namesake of Sicyon. Having brought entirely over to his own side the common people of Athens, whom he had before disdained, he gave all the tribes new names, and made the number greater than formerly; instead of the four phylarchs he established ten; he likewise placed ten demes in each of the tribes; and he was, now that the common people took his part, very much more powerful than his adversaries.

Isagoras in his turn lost ground; and therefore, to counter-plot his enemy, he called in Cleomenes the Lacedaemonian, who had already, at the time when he was besieging the Pisistratidae, made a contract of friendship with him. A charge is even brought against Cleomenes that he was on terms of too great familiarity with Isagoras’s wife. At this time the first thing that he did was to send a herald and require that Clisthenes, and a large number of Athenians besides, whom he called “The Accursed,” should leave Athens. This message he sent at the suggestion of Isagoras: for in the affair referred to, the blood-guiltiness lay on the Alcmaeonidae and their partisans, while he and his friends were quite clear of it.

The way in which “The Accursed” at Athens got their name, was the following. There was a certain Athenian called Cylon, a victor at the Olympic Games, who aspired to the sovereignty, and aided by a number of his companions, who were of the same age with himself, made an attempt to seize the citadel. But the attack failed; and Cylon became a suppliant at the image. Hereupon the Heads of the Naucraries, who at that time bore rule in Athens, induced the fugitives to remove by a promise to spare their lives. Nevertheless they were all slain; and the blame was laid on the Alcmaeonidae. All this happened before the time of Pisistratus.

When the message of Cleomenes arrived, requiring Clisthenes and “The Accursed” to quit the city, Clisthenes departed of his own accord. Cleomenes, however, notwithstanding his departure, came to Athens, with a small band of followers; and on his arrival sent into banishment seven hundred Athenian families, which were pointed out to him by Isagoras. Succeeding here, he next endeavoured to dissolve the council, and to put the government into the hands of three hundred of the partisans of that leader. But the council resisted, and refused to obey his orders; whereupon Cleomenes, Isagoras, and their followers took possession of the citadel. Here they were attacked by the rest of the Athenians, who took the side of the council, and were besieged for the space of two days: on the third day they accepted terms, being allowed—at least such of them as were Lacedaemonians—to quit the country. And so the word which came to Cleomenes received its fulfilment. For when he first went up into the citadel, meaning to seize it, just as he was entering the sanctuary of the goddess, in order to question her, the priestess arose from her throne, before he had passed the doors, and said—“Stranger from Lacedaemon, depart hence, and presume not to enter the holy place—it is not lawful for a Dorian to set foot there.” But he answered, “Oh! woman, I am not a Dorian, but an Achaean.” Slighting this warning, Cleomenes made his attempt, and so he was forced to retire, together with his Lacedaemonians. The rest were cast into prison by the Athenians, and condemned to die—among them Timasitheus the Delphian, of whose prowess and courage I have great things which I could tell.

So these men died in prison. The Athenians directly afterwards recalled Clisthenes, and the seven hundred families which Cleomenes had driven out; and, further, they sent envoys to Sardis, to make an alliance with the Persians, for they knew that war would follow with Cleomenes and the Lacedaemonians. When the ambassadors reached Sardis and delivered their message, Artaphernes, son of Hystaspes, who was at that time governor of the Place, inquired of them “who they were, and in what part of the world they dwelt, that they wanted to become allies of the Persians?” The messengers told him; upon which he answered them shortly—that “if the Athenians chose to give earth and water to King Darius, he would conclude an alliance with them; but if not, they might go home again.” After consulting together, the envoys, anxious to form the alliance, accepted the terms; but on their return to Athens, they fell into deep disgrace on account of their compliance.

Meanwhile Cleomenes, who considered himself to have been insulted by the Athenians both in word and deed, was drawing a force together from all parts of the Peloponnese, without informing any one of his object; which was to revenge himself on the Athenians, and to establish Isagoras, who had escaped with him from the citadel, as despot of Athens. Accordingly, with a large army, he invaded the district of Eleusis, while the Boeotians, who had concerted measures with him, took Oenoe and - Next

Book I - Book II - Book III - Book IV - Book V- Book VI- Book VII - Book VIII - Book IX