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Pisistratus

Pisistratus (pīsĬs´trətəs), 605?–527 BC, Greek statesman, tyrant of Athens. His power was founded on the cohesion of the rural citizens, whom he consolidated with farseeing land laws. His coup (c.560 BC) was probably not unpopular. His rivals, the Alcmaeonidae and the aristocracy, managed to exile him twice, but in his last years he established himself sufficiently to leave Athens in the hands of his sons, Hippias and Hipparchus. He first won Salamis for Athens and established Attic hegemony in the Dardanelles. He did much to enhance Athenian cultural prestige, held great festivals like the Panathenaea, and beautified the city. His building efforts included fountains and temples, such as the great temple of Zeus at Athens. He had an official text of Homer written down. His name also appears as Peisistratus.

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Pisistratus

Pisistratus (c.605–527 bc) Athenian ruler. He became leader of the popular party in Athens. He seized control by force in 560 bc, but was overthrown in 554 bc, and driven into exile. With support from Thebes and Argos, he regained power in 541 bc, and ruled as ‘tyrant’ until his death.

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Pisistratus

Pisistratus

Died 527 b.c.e.

Tyrant of athens

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Descendant of Solon. Pisistratus (also spelled Peisistratus) was born into an aristocratic Athenian family in the sixth century b.c.e.; an ancestor served as an archon in 669-668, and one of his mother’s relatives was Solon. He distinguished himself in the war with Megara (570-565) and attempted to seize power in Athens in 560 and 556. At one point he slashed himself and drove his chariot into the agora (marketplace) to show the people how his enemies had attacked him. In 546 he finally succeeded in taking control of the city.

Golden Age. Pisistratus ruled Athens by the use of force, but as a turannos (tyrant) he was benevolent and law-abiding. Aristotle called his reign the “golden age”; it was noted for the expansion of industry and commerce, domestic tranquility, and neutrality in foreign affairs. A consummate politician, Pisistratus made a point to please the city population as well as the rural majority.

Achievements. During this period Athens grew from a conglomeration of villages into a city, and Pisistratus beautified the marketplace and improved the water supply by building an aqueduct. In rural affairs, he made loans to small farmers for tools and equipment and instituted a system of traveling judges to hear country cases on the spot. Under his reign, religious festivals such as the Panathenaea and the City Dionysia were introduced or expanded. He financed these extensive programs by revenues from the mines at Mount Pangaeum and Laurium in addition to a 5 percent tax on all agricultural products. Pisistratus died in 527 b.c.e. and was succeeded by his sons Hippias and Hipparchus. His encouragement of Athenian prosperity helped to make the city a contending power in Greece.

Source

Antony Andrewes, The Greek Tyrants (London: Hutchinson’s University Library, 1956).

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