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THE TYRANT PISISTRATUS
 NOT very long after Solon had given the new laws to the
Athenians, the two political parties of the city again
began to quarrel. One of these parties was composed
wholly of rich men and nobles, or aristoi, from which
Greek word is formed our English word "aristocrat;" the
other party included the farmers and poor people, or
demos, the Greek term which has given rise to the word
Among the aristocrats, or nobles, there was a nephew of
Solon called Pisistratus. He was very rich; but,
instead of upholding his own party, he seemed to scorn
the rich, and always sided with the poor. To make
friends with the democrats, he pretended to obey the
laws with the greatest care, and addressed every man
with the utmost politeness.
Once, having killed a man by accident, Pisistratus came
of his own free will before the judges of the
Areopagus, confessed his crime, and was so humble that
he quite disarmed the anger of the people.
As soon as he felt quite sure that he had won many
friends among the poor, Pisistratus appeared one day in
the market place, covered with blood, which flowed from
slight wounds which he had made upon his own body.
His polite manners and kindly words had been only a
pretense, however; and he was not only a hypocrite, but
also a liar. So he now said that the aristocrats had
tried to kill him because he was the friend of the
In proof of these words, he pointed to his wounds.
 The poorer Athenians, who believed him, were very
indignant, and began to talk angrily about the wicked
nobles, who had hurt Pisistratus only because he was
ready to help them.
When Pisistratus cried out that his life was no longer
safe, all the democrats exclaimed that they would
protect him; and, as they had the right of voting, they
then and there said that he should have a bodyguard of
fifty armed men to protect him.
Pisistratus pretended to be very grateful for this
favor, and, under pretext of choosing his bodyguard,
engaged a great number of soldiers. When his plans
were all ready, he took possession of the Acropolis by
The people now found out, but too late, that
Pisistratus had deceived them only to get more power;
and that, thanks to the guard they had voted him, he
had become master of the town, and held the reins of
The Athenians did not long remain angry with their
former favorite, however; for he did all he could to
make them happy, and ruled them very wisely. He
improved the city by building magnificent temples and
other public buildings, and made a great aqueduct, so
that the people could have plenty of pure water to
Pisistratus also laid out a public park, the Lyceum, just outside the city walls, so that the Athenians
could go there, and enjoy the cool shade of the groves
he had planted.
Then he began to collect all the poems of Homer, had
them carefully written down, and placed them in a
 public library, so that the Greeks could read them
whenever they pleased. Until then these poems had only
been recited, and no written copy existed.
Pisistratus, therefore, did a very good work in thus
keeping for our enjoyment the greatest epic poems ever
As Pisistratus ruled just as he pleased, without
consulting the Tribunal or people, he has been called a
tyrant. This word in those days meant "supreme ruler;"
but as many of those who followed him made a bad use of
their power, and were cruel and grasping, its meaning
soon changed, and the word now means "a selfish and