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THE RULE OF PISISTRATUS AND THE ALCMAEONIDAE
THE Athenians were aggrieved and restless and ready to welcome almost any change. This was just the time for a
crafty man to step in, win favor, and become tyrant. There was a man ready to do this. His name was
Pisistratus. He was popular because of his generosity and because of his having won victories in the
Olympian chariot-races. He pretended to be perfectly satisfied with Solon's laws and to care for nothing but
the good of his country. The people believed him, and when he drove into the market-place one day smeared with
blood, they were ready to accept his story that his enemies had almost killed him because he was so devoted to
the happiness of the people. The market-place was full of the poorest men, the ones to whom Pisistratus claimed
to be a special friend. Solon, too, was there, and he cried out, "Pisistratus, you have done this to impose
upon your countrymen." Nevertheless, the people believed the deceiver and were ready to fall in with a
proposal—made by a
 man whom he had engaged beforehand—that their abused friend should have bodyguard of fifty men, armed with
clubs. Little by little the number was increased. "The Many" wished it, and the nobles did not dare to oppose
them too strongly. After a while the guard had come to consist of four hundred strongmen. Then Pisistratus
seized the Acropolis. He became tyrant, and Athens was no longer free. Solon had warned the Athenians again and
again but they had no heeded him. At last he laid his shield an
sword down outside his door and closed it, saying, "I have done all in my power to defend my country and its
THE ACROPOLIS AT ATHENS.
Pisistratus now felt himself master of Athens. "How will he treat Solon?" the people questioned. They soon
learned that he had no idea of doing him any harm. On the contrary, he often asked his advice in public
matters; and Solon was generous and patriotic enough never to refuse it if he thought it would be of benefit to
(IN THE VATICAN GALLERY AT ROME)
Pisistratus banished the Alcmæonidæ, but in a little while he himself was driven away. He succeeded in
returning, and a wonderful return it was. It took place on a festival day, when the streets were full of people
watching the processions in honor of the gods. One procession after another had passed, when suddenly the loud
voices of heralds were heard crying, "Ye men of Athens, receive and welcome Pisistratus! Athene honors him
 above all other men, and now brings him back into her own Acropolis!" A brilliant escort followed, and then a
splendid chariot rolled along, wherein sat a tall, handsome woman dressed in a full suit of armor with shield
and spear, and looking much as the Greeks fancied Athene to look. Beside the chariot rode the tyrant. The
people gazed and gazed. "It is the goddess herself!" some of them whispered in awe; others saw that it was only
a trick; but the gates of the Acropolis were thrown open, and Pisistratus was again tyrant of Athens. Once more
he was driven from the city, and this time he returned by force of arms. At last he was secure in his position,
and he held it until his death eighteen years later.
Of course the rule did not rightfully belong to Pisistratus, but no one could deny that he made good use of it.
It is true that he kept the highest offices for members of his own clan, but he was kind to the poor farmers
and gave them
cattle and seeds and farming tools. He beautified the city with
 magnificent temples; he built a massive aqueduct to bring down water from the mountains; and he laid out a
delightful garden on the bank of a river near the city. Here were stately buildings and fountains and pleasant
walks in shady groves. Here it was that the young men of Athens used to come for military exercises. He built
roads to different parts of the country. They all started from an altar in Athens, and there tablets were kept
on which the distances to the various places were written. The roads themselves were made much more agreeable
for travelers, for milestones were put up, not plain stones, but wooden posts whose tops were carve into heads
of Hermes, the god to whom men who were about to go on a journey prayed for protection. Often some amusing
saying was cut on the post.
Of course Pisistratus did not forget Athene. There is an old story that she and Poseidon once vied with each
other to see which could bestow the more valuable gift upon the city. Poseidon gave a spring of salt water, and
Athene gave an olive tree. It was decided that her gift was the more valuable. Her name was given to the city,
and she was always held in the highest reverence. Pisistratus built a temple for her worship, and every year he
held a brilliant festival in her honor. The early Greeks believed that the image of a goddess was in some
degree the goddess herself, and they felt sure that Athene was delighted when at this festival they formed an
imposing procession and carried to the temple a dazzling new robe to put upon her statue. All those things
vanished long ago, and however much they may have pleased the Athenians, they make little difference to us.
Pisistratus is said to have done one deed however, for which we may feel grateful, even after twenty-four
 hundred years have passed; he is said to have asked all the people who knew the works of Homer and of Hesiod to
meet together in Athens and
compare the poems as they had been used to recite them. The version that was decided to be best was carefully
put into writing; and this is how it came about that we can read the thoughts of those two great writers in
almost the same words in which the early Greeks read them. Pisistratus was not satisfied with doing honor to
dead poets; he invited the best of the poets then living to make their homes in Athens, and he saw to it that
they should live in comfort.
HORSEMEN HASTENING TO JOIN THE PROCESSION TO THE TEMPLE OF ATHENE.
(FROM THE PARTHENON
When Pisistratus died, in 527 B.C., no one tried to prevent his son Hippias from succeeding him. At
first, Hippias was kind Hippias to the people, but
after a while he and his younger brother Hipparchus became so haughty and insolent that a plot was made
to assassinate them. Hippias escaped,
hut his brother was slain. After this Hippias showed himself so
 tyrannical that those who had once liked him began to wish for his downfall. There were also some people away
from Athens who wished the same thing. These were the Alcmæonidæ, who, had been in exile all this time. They
had always hoped to return, and they were wise enough to know that the first step was to win the favor of the
priests at Delphi. They watched for an opportunity, and at length it came. The temple of Apollo at Delphi
caught fire and burned. "We will rebuild it for three hundred talents," said the Alcmæonidæ; and the bargain
was made. Now was their chance. They not only kept the bargain, but they did much more, for they made the
statues and carvings, indeed the whole building, far more handsome in every way than they had agreed. They had
promised, for instance, to make the porch of the temple of limestone; but instead of ordinary limestone, they
used the purest and whitest of Parian marble.
HEAD OF APOLLO BELVEDERE
(IN THE VATICAN GALLERY AT ROME)
The Greeks were delighted, the priests of Apollo were ready do anything for the generous Alcmæonidæ. It was an
easy matter for them to do favors so long as they had control of the oracle, and they set to work to bring the
Alcmæonidæ back to Athens. The Spartans were good fighters, and they had long wished to make Attica subject to
them; so now, whenever they asked the oracle for advice about any undertaking, the answer was always,
 "First set Athens free." At length, the Spartan king Cleomenes marched out with his army, and before
long the Alcmæonidæ had come back to Athens, and Hippias had been obliged to go into exile.
The leader of the Alcmæonidæ was Clisthenes, and he soon became ruler. He succeeded in bringing about
two changes that were exceedingly good for his country: he made the people more united, and he gave the common
folk a larger share in the government. He set about uniting the people by dividing them in quite a different
fashion from the way in which they had been divided before. There had been four "Ionic Tribes," as they
were called, and every man looked up to the great folk of his own tribe and belonged to some party. Clisthenes
determined to break up these parties, and this is the way he did it. He divided the whole country into
districts called demes. Then he made a tribe, consisting of the people of one deme in the north of
Attica, another in the south, and so on. There were ten of these tribes, but the men of the different demes
were strangers to one another; and so it was not now nearly so easy as it had been for a discontented noble to
raise a party to support him. Since the days of Draco there had been a Council which proposed laws to the
people, and Clisthenes now gave each tribe the right to elect fifty members. However, each tribe chose a
governor for itself, and also a general, who commanded the army in turn with the other nine, one day at a time.
No change was made, however, in the division of the citizens into four classes according to their income from
land, and it was still impossible for a man in the fourth class to hold office.
HORSEMEN IN THE PROCESSION
(FROM THE PARTHENON FRIEZE.)
The government of Attica was now a democracy, or government by the people. In the earlier times no one could be
 who was not a Eupatrid. Draco allowed the Ecclesia to choose the magistrates from among those who received a
certain income from land. He admitted all to the Ecclesia who could buy arms and armor for themselves. Solon
allowed no one to be chosen as magistrate unless, as in Draco's day, he received a certain income from land but
he admitted all the Ecclesia, whether they could buy a for themselves or not. Clisthenes did not allow the men
of the fourth class to hold office, but he gave the people as a whole much more power than they had previously
had. There were many new citizens, for Clisthenes allowed men who had come to Attica from other countries, and
even those who had once been slaves, to become citizens.
SACRIFICE TO ATHENE, THE GODDESS OF ATHENS
(PRIESTESS WITH THE BRANCHES IS SPRINKLING THE
ALTAR. PRIEST STANDS AT THE RIGHT)
In order to give still more power to the people, and make it impossible for any man to become tyrant,
Clisthenes introduced two remarkable customs. One was called ostracism. If the Council and the general
assembly of the people thought that any man was getting so much power that he might become tyrant, they asked
the citizens to come together. Then each one was requested to write on a shell (ostrakon) or bit of pottery the
name of any man whom he believed about to become dangerous to the liberty of the state. If any one man received
six thousand votes, he must leave Athens for ten years. This
 banishment was not agreeable, of course, but it was looked upon as a sort of compliment, for it was really
saying to a man, "You are greater or more popular than any other person in the state."
The second custom was intended to prevent wealthy or powerful men from raising parties to elect them to office.
If a man wished to hold some office, all that he could do now was to present his name as a candidate. Then lots
were drawn to decide who should be the successful man. Of course the Greeks were not so foolish as to choose
their generals in this manner; and, whatever the faults of the two customs were, they did at least keep Athens
free from tyrants.
The common people were pleased with these changes, but the nobles were not, and they began to make plans to
break up the democracy. They appealed to the Spartan ruler for help. King Cleomenes knew that if Athens were a
democracy and the masses up the of the people were contented, there would be little hope of his at Athens
gaining power in Attica. Moreover, he felt that he had been only a cat's-paw in bringing back the Alcmæonidæ
and had gained nothing for Sparta. Therefore, he was not only willing to help, but he induced some of the
allies of the Spartans to join him. The allies, however, withdrew, the Spartan leaders quarreled, and the whole
army broke up. The people of Thebes and of Chalcis had taken this time to march out against the
Athenians. But the Athenians also marched out, and beat first the Thebans and then the Chalcidians.
Later the Spartans made an attempt to bring back Hippias, but the Athenians would not have him; and they were
obliged to give up for the time the attempt to rule Attica.
Athens had gained statues, buildings, wise laws, and a better
 government; but, best of all, she had reached the point where the masses of her citizens were united in caring
for their country.
Pisistratus became tyrant of Athens. He banished the Alcmæonidæ, and was banished himself, but succeeded in
returning. He was kind to the poor and beautified the city. He had the works of Homer and of Hesiod put into
Pisistratus was succeeded by Hippias. The Alcmæonidæ rebuilt the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and the Spartans
by command of the oracle brought them back to Athens and drove Hippias into exile.
Clisthenes became ruler of Athens. He made the people more united, and established a democracy. He introduced
ostracism and election by lot.
SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITTEN WORK
A boy describes Pisistratus's coming into the market-place.
A poor man tells of the changes in government made by Clisthenes.
A man who had been ostracized describes the custom.