Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
HIPPIAS DRIVEN OUT OF ATHENS
FOUR years passed thus, and the Athenians were hoping that
the time would soon come when they could get rid of
Hippias. They were only too glad, therefore,
 when they at last found a way to drive him out of the
You must remember how Megacles had killed the men who
came out of Athene's temple clinging to the cord they
had fastened to her statue. Megacles, as you know, had
been banished from Athens with all his family (the
Alcmæonidæ) on account of this crime, but he had always
hoped to be allowed to return.
Meanwhile the beautiful temple at Delphi had been
burned to the ground, and the people were very anxious
to rebuild it. They therefore voted a certain sum of
money for this purpose; and, as the Alcmæonidæ offered
 to do the work for the least pay, the contract was
given to them.
The Alcmæonidæ faithfully carried out the plans, and
used the money; but, instead of building the temple of
brick, they made it of pure white marble, paying for
the more costly material themselves.
The priests of Delphi were so pleased with the handsome
new building, and with the generosity of the builders,
that they were eager to do them a good turn. So,
knowing that the Alcmæonidæ wanted to get back to
Athens, they told the Spartans who came to consult the
oracle, that Hippias should be driven away, and the
Alcmæonidæ allowed to return to their native city.
As the people believed all the oracle said, the
Spartans armed at once, and, helped by the Alcmæonidæ,
began to make war against the Athenians. By a clever
trick, they soon managed to capture the family of
Hippias, and they refused to set them free unless the
tyrant left Athens forever.
Thus forced to give in, Hippias left Athens, and
withdrew with his family to Asia Minor. Here he spent
all his time in trying to persuade the different cities
to make war against Athens, offering to lead their
armies, for he still hoped to regain his lost power.
The Athenians, delighted at the expulsion of the
Pisistratidæ, as the driving-away of Hippias and
his family is called in history, now dared to make
statues in honor of their favorites Harmodius and
Aristogiton, and openly expressed their regret that
these brave young men had not lived to see their native
Many songs were composed to celebrate the patriotism
 of the two friends; and these were sung on all public
occasions, to encourage other youths to follow their
example, lead good and virtuous lives, and be ready at
any time to die, if need be, for the sake of their
Leæna, too, received much praise, for the Athenian
women never forgot how bravely she had endured torture
rather than betray the men who had trusted her.
The Alcmæonidæ, having thus found their way back into
the city, now began to play an important part in the
government; and Clisthenes, their leader, urged the
Athenians to obey again the laws which had been made by
These were slightly changed, however, so as to give
more power to the people; and the government thus
became more democratic than ever. Then, too,
Clisthenes said that there should always be ten
Athenian generals who should hold supreme command each
for a day in turn.
He also made a law, to the effect that no man should be
driven out of the city unless there were six thousand
votes in favor of his exile. These votes were given in
a strange way.
When a man was so generally disliked that his departure
seemed best, all the Athenians assembled in the market
place. Then each voter received a shell (Greek,
ostrakon), and dropped it into a place made for that
purpose. All in favor of banishment wrote upon their
shells the name of the man they wished to exile. The
others left theirs blank.
When all the votes had thus been cast, the shells were
 carefully counted, and, if six thousand bore the name
of the same man, he was driven out of the city, or
ostracized, as it was called from the name of the
shell, for ten years.