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Lecture 16

CLA232H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Croesus, Peisistratos, Harmodius And Aristogeiton

Course Code
Victoria Wohl

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Lecture 16 Tyrants & Democrats
Life of Solon by Plutarch & “Political Verses” by Solon March 14th 2012
-Internal divisions w/I Greece and Athens now the other is in the same group…
Class division
Athens vs Sparta
Philosopher vs others
-When the alterity is us vs us, it is more problematic because run the risk of losing what unites us
(“what makes us, us”)
-Athenian culture was defined against many others….there were also those who shared the poleis
but NOT cit
Slaves and tyrant
Athenians prided themselves on elutheria and defined it w/i two extremes…
o Mostly barbarians
o Almost everyone had slaves
o NO rights at all (could own insignificant amt )
o NO autonomy: couldn’t marry w/o master’s permission, can’t say no to
master’s sexual advances etc.
o Goes AGAINST elutheria (meaning you own your own body) because slaves
were literally the property of the master.
Citizens could bring a court case of hubris if someone hit you, or made
it seem like they were better than you. If you assaulted a slave, they
couldn’t bring a case against you BUT the slave’s master could bring a
case against you.
o Regardless, it wasn’t good to beat your slaves -> made you look bad.
o Some slaves became quite literate: could read, some slaves had the
responsibility of a lot of land.
o By PHUSIS they were meant for the use of another person. Aristotle called
them “living tool”
o The only free person in a tyranny is the tyrant, everyone else is a slave
o TOTAL power, eleutheria, pleasure etc (which in a democracy would be
owned by solely the tyrant)
o Usually associated w/ barbarian BUT many Greek cities were ruled by tyrant
Citizens of a democracy were in the middle of these two extremes
Overthrow of tyranny….
Pisistraus -> prevailed over the other aristocrates
o Wounds himself, claims other ppl did it, asks for body guard, uses body guard
to take over the acropolis. His enemies unite kick him out. Pisistraus comes
back with a woman acting like Athena who “wanted” Pisistraus to be King.
Enemies kick him out eventually then pisstraus comes back again with an
army to take over AThens
o So seizes power THREE times in illegimate
o Unable to extend rule into next generation
His sons: Hippias -> good vs Hipparchus -> bad
Hippa falls in love with Harmodius who was the Aristogeniton
who ends up killing Hipparchus in a fit of sexual jealous
This myth shows that Atheniens from the beginning were
Tyrant haters. Tyranny is shown via sex: Hippa takes
Harmodius even if he is boyfriend if someone else BUT
Aristogeniton shows that no one can force an Athenian down
Foundation of Athenian democracy
Their descendents even got tax breaks!
-Solon = founder of democracy
laid the laws that eventually became the foundation for Athenian democracy
Athenians projected a lot of mythology onto him
Embodies Greek values as opposed to the Barbarians power and wealth
Anti-tyrannical stance in his politics and his writing
Plutarch describes the political situation when Solon came to power
o Violent power struggles + economic inequality
These were the situations that were at had in other Greek cities & they
ended up having a tyranny…it was really just luck that Athens didn’t
have a tyranny
o Appealed to the rich and the poor because he didn’t have a big stake in either
o Refused to be tyrant -> set himself up to be a mediator b.w the two sides
(poem #3).
Established a constitution that shared power amongst the people
Some tyrannical aspects of Solon’s life
o Sec. 8: pretended to be mad, crowd gathered, he sang a poem about how they
should continue their struggle for Salamis -> similar to way Pisistrasus came
to power (public performance to come to power NOT through constitutional
o At the end of this life, he tries to stop the rise of Pisistrasus. He berates his
people for accepting a Pisistrasus …“when it coems to managing your own
you are smart as a fox but when you come together you lose your wit”. So its
kind of like Solon vs Croesus = Solon vs Pisisstrasus
o Hints at a relationship between Pissistrasus and Solon…maybe they were
lovers? When Solon was cursing Pissistrasus, P didn’t kick S out.
The other is never other as the self would like to think
o Solon didn’t want to be tyrant but he sets up one in his place = the LAW
Athenians do accept ONE TYRANT = the LAW
Solon’s reforms:
Economic reforms that brought about political and social reforms
In 7th and early 6th scentury -> huge prob of inequality
o Land was owned by a few rich men and worked by the “hectemoroi”. They
went into debt so had to sell themselves and they families into slavery
o Poem #2: poor were losing their citizen
Seisachtheia: “shaking off of burden”
o Elimination of debt bondage & anything you owe
Brought back the people who had been sold into slavery
Rich were angry b/c losing all their wealth and the poor were angry because they
wanted total re-distribution of the land
Prohibited export of
Diversify the economic -> offered citizenship
Made it a law that everyone had to learn a trade -> bring up the bottom
Minimized public display of wealth
o Abolished dowries (encourage intermarriage b/w class)
o Banning conspicution consumtion
o Ban elaborate funeral rites