|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
HARMODIUS AND ARISTOGITON
 HIPPIAS and Hipparchus were as eager as their father Pisistratus had
been to govern Athens well. Nor did they quarrel as to the
way in which they could best do this, as brother-tyrants
might have done.
But one day Hipparchus quarrelled with a citizen named
Harmodius, and to quarrel with Harmodius meant to make an
enemy of his great friend Aristogiton.
Harmodius showed that he was angry with Hipparchus, who then
used his power as tyrant to punish the citizen. This was
unfair, as the quarrel was a private one.
The tyrant even refused to allow the sister of Harmodius to
carry a basket in the procession of the gods, an insult
which the citizen could ill brook. He therefore resolved to
revenge himself, and together with Aristogiton he made a
plot to slay not only Hipparchus but his brother Hippias as
well. Only a few friends were told of the plot, which they
hoped to carry out on the day of the procession. As it was
usual to carry arms at the festival, it would arouse no
suspicion if the friends were seen to carry theirs.
When the day arrived, Harmodius and Aristogiton appeared at
the festival bearing lances, as did the other citizens. But
to be the more certain of carrying out their plan, they also
carried daggers concealed beneath their cloaks.
The conspirators wished to kill Hippias outside the city
gates, while he was arranging the order of the procession.
But when they approached the tyrant he chanced to be
to one of those who knew of the plot, and the conspirators
fled, thinking that Hippias had learned their secret.
Hippias was saved, but rushing to the market-place the two
friends fell upon Hipparchus and killed him.
The conspirators expected the citizens to rally round them,
but they stood aloof, while Harmodius was seized by the
guards and put to death. Aristogiton was tortured to make
him betray the names of those who knew of the plot, but he
too died, steadfastly refusing to speak.
Although at first the Athenians paid little attention to
what Harmodius and Aristogiton had done and had suffered,
they began ere long to think of them as heroes who had
freed Athens from the rule of one of the tyrants. Perhaps
this was because Hippias, frightened by his brother's death,
brought hired soldiers into the city, raised the taxes that
he might have money with which to pay his mercenaries, and
began to oppress the citizens in many other ways.
The discontent of the people encouraged Cleisthenes, the son
of Megacles, to put himself at their head and lead them
against Hippias, but they were soon crushed by the hired
soldiers of the tyrant.
Cleisthenes then tried to do by a trick what he had been
unable to do by force. He knew that he was liked by the
priests at Delphi, for he had given munificent gifts to the
temple. So he begged them if a Spartan came to consult the
oracle, no matter about what, to answer always, "Athens must
be set free." This the priests promised should be done.
The Spartans had been friendly with Pisistratus, and they
did not wish to harm his son. But when the oracle's one
answer to all their requests
was "Athens must be set free," they
knew that they must march against the tyrant if they
wished their own affairs to prosper. At first they were
defeated by the mercenaries of Hippias, but one of their
kings then took command of the army and defeated the tyrant,
who took refuge in the Acropolis.
The citadel would stand a long siege, as Hippias was
aware. But he was soon forced to surrender, for his
children whom he was sending secretly out of the country
were captured by the Spartans. On condition that their
lives should be spared, Hippias promised to leave the state
within five days.
So the children were released and sailed with Hippias, under
a safe conduct, to Asia, where they lived in a small town
which had belonged to Pisistratus.
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