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Died 522 b.c.e.

Tyrant of samos


Naval Dominance. The tyrant Polycrates ruled the island of Samos from circa 546 to 522 b.c.e. He initially took control of the city of Samos during a festival and quickly eliminated his two brothers who had aided his ascension to power. His domestic building programs included an aqueduct and a temple. Polycrates commanded a fleet of one hundred vessels, which dominated the eastern Aegean Sea and committed various acts of piracy throughout the region. His attempts to gain control of the Greek Ionian colonies caused him to seek alliances with major powers and then to change sides whenever it was politically expedient. For example, in 525 b.c.e. he abandoned his Egyptian allies and loaned a squadron of ships to the Persian fleet. Soon afterward his political opponents, with the aid of Sparta, attempted to remove him from power but failed. Three years later Oroetes, the Persian governor of Sardis, lured him to Asia Minor and had him crucified. Like many other Greek tyrants, Polycrates was a patron of artists and poets.


Will Durant, The Life of Greece, The Story of Civilization: Part II (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1939).

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