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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


arresting and imprisoning the best citizens upon the evidence of
rascals, and preferring to sift the matter to the bottom sooner than
to let an accused person of good character pass unquestioned, owing to
the rascality of the informer. The commons had heard how oppressive
the tyranny of Pisistratus and his sons had become before it ended,
and further that that had been put down at last, not by themselves and
Harmodius, but by the Lacedaemonians, and so were always in fear and
took everything suspiciously.
Indeed, the daring action of Aristogiton and Harmodius was
undertaken in consequence of a love affair, which I shall relate at
some length, to show that the Athenians are not more accurate than the
rest of the world in their accounts of their own tyrants and of the
facts of their own history. Pisistratus dying at an advanced age in
possession of the tyranny, was succeeded by his eldest son, Hippias,
and not Hipparchus, as is vulgarly believed. Harmodius was then in the
flower of youthful beauty, and Aristogiton, a citizen in the middle
rank of life, was his lover and possessed him. Solicited without
success by Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus, Harmodius told Aristogiton,
and the enraged lover, afraid that the powerful Hipparchus might
take Harmodius by force, immediately formed a design, such as his
condition in life permitted, for overthrowing the tyranny. In the
meantime Hipparchus, after a second solicitation of Harmodius,
attended with no better success, unwilling to use violence, arranged
to insult him in some covert way. Indeed, generally their government
was not grievous to the multitude, or in any way odious in practice;
and these tyrants cultivated wisdom and virtue as much as any, and
without exacting from the Athenians more than a twentieth of their
income, splendidly adorned their city, and carried on their wars,
and provided sacrifices for the temples. For the rest, the city was
left in full enjoyment of its existing laws, except that care was
always taken to have the offices in the hands of some one of the
family. Among those of them that held the yearly archonship at
Athens was Pisistratus, son of the tyrant Hippias, and named after his
grandfather, who dedicated during his term of office the altar to
the twelve gods in the market-place, and that of Apollo in the Pythian
precinct. The Athenian people afterwards built on to and lengthened
the altar in the market-place, and obliterated the inscription; but
that in the Pythian precinct can still be seen, though in faded
letters, and is to the following effect:

Pisistratus, the son of Hippias,
Sent up this record of his archonship
In precinct of Apollo Pythias.

That Hippias was the eldest son and succeeded to the government,
is what I positively assert as a fact upon which I have had more exact
accounts than others, and may be also ascertained by the following
circumstance. He is the only one of the legitimate brothers that
appears to have had children; as the altar shows, and the pillar
placed in the Athenian Acropolis, commemorating the crime of the
tyrants, which mentions no child of Thessalus or of Hipparchus, but
five of Hippias, which he had by Myrrhine, daughter of Callias, son of
Hyperechides; and naturally the eldest would have married first.
Again, his name comes first on the pillar after that of his father;
and this too is quite natural, as he was the eldest after him, and the
reigning tyrant. Nor can I ever believe that Hippias would have
obtained the tyranny so easily, if Hipparchus had been in power when
he was killed, and he, Hippias, had had to establish himself upon
the same day; but he had no doubt been long accustomed to overawe
the citizens, and to be obeyed by his mercenaries, and thus not only
conquered, but conquered with ease, without experiencing any of the
embarrassment of a younger brother unused to the exercise of
authority. It was the sad fate which made Hipparchus famous that got
him also the credit with posterity of having been tyrant.

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