Herodotus – The Histories, Book 5, “Terpischore” [56-96] – Affairs in Athens

  1. Hipparchus’s dream occurred before a festival where a man came to him & told him a riddle. He told dream interpreters about it & offered sacrifices, then went off to the procession he would die in.
  2. The Gephyraeans – the murderers’ family – originally came from Eretria, maybe even from Phoenicia further back, but eventually settled in Beotia. They had land in the Tanagra district. They were expelled & went to Athens. They were treated well but not given full citizenship.
  3. The Phoenicians who went with Cadmus to Greece brought loads of useful things with them that the Greeks didn’t have, most importantly, writing. The Greek took the Phoenician letters & adopted them with some variations. Because paper was rare, they used sheepskins, which actually was better because they had longer lifespans.
  4. I’ve seen these original letters & they look like Ionian writing.
  5. These go back to before the time of Oedipus in Boetia & Thebes.
  6. The text I’ve seen mentioned many familiar stories. The Gephyraeans stuck around for a while & eventually went to Athens & even built their own temples & held their own festivals.
  7. Back to how Athens got rid of their tyrants… When Hipparchus died, Hippias, the ruler, became cruel to the Athenians. Families who’d been banished joined together to go back home & free the city by force. They took & fortified Leipsydrium but weren’t able to do any more. They decided to have the temple of Delphi rebuilt, very chic.
  8. These men bribed the Oracle to tell the Spartans that whenever they asked about what to do on any subject, her answer would be to free Athens. They sent Anchiomolius to fight in Athens to drive out the Pisistratidae Troops went by sea but the Pisistratidae knew about this attack in advance & sent for help from Thessaly, who sent 1000 horsemen. They chose a place to fight to their advantage & were able to kill & scare off almost all the Spartan attackers.
  9. The Spartans sent a larger force under Cleomenes by land. They fought the Thessalian horsemen in Attica. Cleomenes besieged the tyrants, who ran off to the Pelasgi fortress.
  10. The Spartans were never going to outlast the tyrants since they were well stocked. After a few days, the Spartans were tempted to leave Attica but the opportunity presented itself to hold the tyrants’ children for ransom. Within 5 days, the tyrants caved & agreed to leave the region. So, the Pylians became the kings of Athens.
  11. The power of Athens grew. The political authority was vested in Clisthenes & Isagoras. Clisthenes appealed to popular approval & got rid of the 4 Athenian tribes & created 10 new ones, named after historical Athenian heroes.
  12. Clisthenes was imitating his grandfather, Clisthenes of Sicyon, who drove out all the memory of Argive heroes, banned Homer & eliminated anything praising Argos & its heroes. Clisthenes the elder asked the Oracle asked how he could get rid of the memory of the Argive king, Adrastus. The Oracle said that Adrastus was a king but he was just a thief. Clisthenes went home to find a different way to achieve his goals. He sent a messenger to Thebes to bring the remains of Melanippus to Sicyon because the 2 had been enemies. All the attention was taken away from Adrastus & given to Melanippus.
  13. Clisthenes changed the tribal names, as well. His group was known as the “rulers” but the other groups were given embarrassing names like “Pig People”, “Swine Folk”, “Ass People”, etc. These names stuck around for quite some time.
  14. The Athenian Clisthenes resolved that his tribes would not be like the Ionians. He had brought the common people of Athens over to his side. He also turned the 4 tribe system into a 10 tribe system.
  15. Isagoras was losing power & called in Cleomenes to make a contract of friendship. Some say Cleomenes was more than familiar with Isagoras’s wife. Cleomenes called for Isagoras to send Clisthenes & his followers – called “the Accursed” – out of Athens.
  16. The “Accursed” got their name like this… An Athenian named Cylon, who was an Olympian champion, wanted to be king & made an attempt to take the citadel but failed. Cylon became a suppliant to the temple to escape punishment. The heads of the Naucranies, who were running Athens at the time, promised those in the temple that their lives would be spared if they came out. They ended up killing them & blamed it on the Alcmaeonidae. For this affront to the suppliant’s status, they got the name.
  17. The message from Cleomenes came, requiring Clisthenes & the Accursed to leave Athens. Clisthenes left on his own. Cleomenes went to Athens with a few followers & sent 700 Athenian families out. He then tried to dissolve the council but they weren’t having it & took off to the citadel where they were besieged for 2 days & then they were allowed to leave in exile. Afterwards, Cleomenes went into the temple to speak to the goddess. The priestess told him that Dorians weren’t allowed in the temple. He said he was Achaean & then left with the other Spartans. Those Spartans who didn’t leave were sent to prison & condemned to die.
  18. The men died in prison. Then Athens recalled Clisthenes & the 700 exiled families. They also sent out envoys to Sardis asking for an alliance with Persia. The Persian governor told them – only if the Athenians agreed to surrender their autonomy. The envoys agreed but once they returned, they were disgraced for having done so.
  19. Cleomenes felt insulted by the Athenians & put together a group to avenge himself & to put Isagoras in charge of Athens. He invaded Eleusis while the Boetians, working with him, took Oenoë & Hysiae. The Chalcideans plundered areas of Attica. The Athenians ignored the Boetians & Chalcideans, & marched straight for the Spartans.
  20. As the 2 armies were about to fight, the Corinthians realized they were in the wrong & pulled out of the Spartan cause. One king of Sparta, Demaratus, followed suit even if he had no beef with Cleomenes personally. Later, the Spartans passed a law saying that one Spartan king would have to stay home when the army was out of town. But seeing as all of his allies had bailed on him, Cleomenes left as well.
  21. This was the 4th time Dorians had invaded Attica – 2x as enemies & 2x as do-gooders. The first time, they founded Megara. The 2nd & 3rd times they came in to drive out the Pisistratidae. This was the 4th time.
  22. When the Spartan army broke up, the Athenians wanted revenge & marched on the Chalcideans. The Boetians marched in by the Euripus Strait. The Athenians attacked first & won a complete victory, killing most of their enemy & taking 700 prisoners. They left 4000 settles & ransomed their prisoners, who were hung by their chains in the citadel until the ransom came. They used the money to build a brass chariot to decorate the Acropolis.
  23. The Athenians grew stronger through their freedom. Life was all right under tyrants but once they were able to get their freedom, they really began to thrive.
  24. The Thebans wanted revenge on Athens. They asked the Oracle what to do even if their strength couldn’t match that of Athens. She said to ask for the aid of those nearest to them. The Thebans didn’t understand because that meant Coronaea & Thespiae who were on their side anyway. Perhaps the Oracle didn’t mean that precisely.
  25. One man proposed the idea they ought to ask the Eginetans for help & they agreed.
  26. The Thebans decided to renew the war. The Eginetans were eager to renew their feud with Athens. They were a city in bloom & sent to plunder Attica & Phalerum, & these attacks caused Athens a lot of suffering.
  27. The feud between the Athenians & Eginetans came about by this… In the land of Epidaurus, no crops would & so the people sent a question to the Oracle, receiving an answer to set up images of Damia & Ausesia. They asked her if they should be made of bronze or stone… she said – neither, but out of olive wood from Attica because from there it’s holy. The Athenians allowed it so long as Epidaurans brought offerings to temples in Athens. They agreed & the exchange was made.
  28. Eginetans were subject to the Epidaurans & had to go to Epidaurus for all matters of justice. Eginetans built ships to revolt from Epidaurus & ravaged the place. They carried off the images of Maia & Auxesia for their own use
  29. The Epidaurans were due to make payments to Athens & when the bill came, the Epidaurans said they no longer had the images & the Athenians should go to the Eginetans for the money since they had the images. The Eginetans refused to pay or give them back.
  30. The Athenians sent a trireme to Egina to take the images. They tried to take them off their pedestals. When that didn’t work, they tied ropes around them to haul them away. Suddenly, there was a thunderclap & the crew of the trireme went mad & killed each other, except one man who was able to make it back to Phalerum.
  31. Eginetans say if there had only been one trireme, they would have been able to handle the Athenians. But they say that the Athenians came in large numbers to take the images & found no resistance. They also say the Argives came to their aid & did big damage to the Athenians before the thunder & earthquakes.
  32. Athenians say only one man returned & the god was the one who destroyed their troops, & even the man died in the end. The wives of the other men were so sad & angry their husbands died & that he survived, that they beat him to death with their brooches. Athens changed its rules about women’s attire because of this event.
  33. Athenian dress was originally Carian, not Ionian. Athenians banned women from bringing anything into the temple – even a jar to pour out libations.
  34. When the Thebans asked the Eginetans for help, they remembered that epidsode with the images. They attacked the Attic coasts. The Oracle told the Athenians to wait 30 years to continue the war & set aside a precinct for Aeacus. They built the precinct but couldn’t wait 30 years.
  35. Athens was ready for revenge when a new dust up with the Spartans put that on hold. The Spartans finally learned of the bribe the Athenians gave to the Oracle to tell them to help them out. They were upset because they had spurred allies to help Athens because the Oracle had told them to. They were also upset about calamities prophesied at the hands of Athens.
  36. When the Spartans learned of this & saw how Athens was growing stronger, they realized a free Athens would be stronger & a tyrannized Athens would be weak & submissive. They sent Hippias & deputies to speak with the Pisistratidae: “We were fooled by a fake Oracle & drove out our true friends & gave the government to ungrateful people who turned on us as soon as they could. Now they are eyeing Boetia & Chalcis. We look to correct the wrongs we’ve done. We’ve sent for Hippias to come here & lead you all to restore you to power.
    1. Most of the audience weren’t persuaded. Sosicles of Corinth addressed them: You Spartans are proposing to replace free government with tyrants. Nothing could be more unjust than to establish puppet rulers in other states. You’ve never had to deal with it & if you had, you’d change your mind.
    2. The government in Corinth was once an oligarchy by the Bacchiadae who only married amongst themselves. One of them had a daughter named Labda, who was lame & wasn’t seen as marriage material for the Bacchiadae. But she was married to Aëtion of Petra. Aëtion went to Delphi about them not having a child. The priestess told him he’d have a kind who’d rule over Corinth. He didn’t understand how & neither did the Bacchiadae until they realized an earlier prophesied they’d be overthrown.
    3. The Bacchiadae knew about it for some time & finally understood what it mean. They kept quiet about it & planned to kill the child. 3 hired men to Petra & asked Labda to see the child. She knew nothing about the prophecy. The men held the child but couldn’t bring themselves to kill him. They left & rebuked themselves for not killing him. They went back to kill the kid.
    4. But Labda had heard their conversation after they left & hid the child in a corn bin (“cypsel”).
    5. The child was named Cypselus after that episode. When he was old enough, he went to Delphi & got a 2-sided response that he’d be king of Corinth as would his son but not his grandchildren. He decided to try his hardest to be master of Corinth & ended up being harsh driving away many & taking their possessions.
    6. He ruled for 30 years & left the city to his son, Periander, who was much milder. He sent a messenger to ask the tyrant of Miletus, Thrasybulus, the best way to rule with rising above the others but actually said nothing. The messenger went back with his report.
    7. Periander understood that the leading citizens of Corinth should be destroyed appeared without saying anything because she looked cold because she had no clothes. Periander brought all the women of Corinth to Juno’s temple, stripped them bare & burned their clothes to give to Melissa, his dead wife. The Oracle said she was pleased.
      • So, Spartans, we knew what comes from tyranny in Corinth. So when we heard you sent for Hippias, we were surprised we’re warning you, don’t put a tyrant in Athens.
  37. Hippias answered: “The Corinthians will rue the day they opposed putting me back in Athens.” The rest of the group broke their silence. They agreed with Sosicles that the Spartans should not put a tyrant in any Greek city.
  38. He left. Amyntas of Macedonia & the Thessalians each offered him a city. He wanted to go back to Sigêum that he’d been taken by the Mytilenaeans. There’d been an on-going fight over the city that wouldn’t seem to end.
  39. In an Athenain victory, local power Alcaeus ran off without weapons. The Athenians kept them in the temple to Minerva. Alcaeus wrote a power about it. Eventually, Periander reconciled Athens & Mytilêné but restored Sigêum to Athens.
  40. Hippias went back to Asia determined to set Persian governor Artaphernes against Athens. The Athenians heard he was on his way to Darius. They sent envoys to Sardis asking them to ignore him. Artaphernes said if they wanted to be safe, they ought to take Hippias back as ruler. Athens refused.

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