Why Did Pisistratus Become A Tyrant?

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Some of history 's best documented tyrannies and prospective tyrannies occurred in the city-state of Athens. In late seventh century B.C.E, Cylon – an Athenian noble – attempt to take control of Athens and rule it as a tyrant. However, he failed and Athens remained an oligarchy. Midway through the sixth century B.C.E another noble, Pisistratus, became a tyrant. He was succeeded by his sons who ruled Athens for several decades and their reign was followed by the establishment of democracy in Athens. Why was Pisistratus ' reign followed by the establishment of democracy, but Cylon 's reign ended with a return to oligarchy? Both were from noble families, both attempted to take control of Athens during intra-elite conflict, and both enacted growth-promoting …show more content…
put an end to the period of tyranny in Athens. After a period of several years of disorder, Cleisthenes undertook conditional reforms. He focused on eliminating sectionalism due to Plain, Shore, and Hill divisions that arose from family-clan-tribe allegiance. From early on in Greek history, combinations of families formed clans and clans formed tribes. Cleisthenes thought that clan and tribal loyalty was too powerful and was dangerous to the welfare of the state. To help eradicate this, he divided Attica into three regions: city, cost, and inland. He divided the people in each region int ten groups each (total of thirty groups for the three regions) and from these groups he formed ten tribes in place of the four original tribes, which he abolished. Each tribe had to have groups from each region. They were given common shrines, worship, and public service units in Athens. Each of the ten tribes elected one of the ten generals of the army, and from each were chosen by lot fifty members of the new Council of Five Hundred, which Cleisthenes for Solon 's Council of Four Hundred. By this time, The Council of Areopagus had very little power or authority. The new Council had general supervision over all matters of state, but the final decision rested with the Assembly. By this time, all male citizens of maturity were allowed to be admitted to the …show more content…
According to McWhorter, “Democracy, equality, complete freedom of thought and of speech may not have been responsible for such brilliant manifestations of the Athenian spirit, but such manifestations would have been impossible without this freedom”25. Pericles was essentially the unofficial ruler of Athens from 461 B.C.E. to 428 B.C.E., when he died. The Assembly looked to Pericles for guidance in important affairs, however, although he held various offices during this time, none of them gave him the authority that he had. He had a tremendous ability to influence the Assembly26. This time, known as the “Age of Pericles” was “...one of the [most] brilliant, enlightened periods of all times”27. Much of what Pericles accomplished in government worked to strengthen the democratic system. He provided pay for jury duty and other state services. Additionally, he increased use of the lot in selection of officers. Despite Pericles ' best efforts, conflict broke out between Sparta and Athens ins 431 B.C.E. This conflict, known as the Peloponnesian War, was incredibly destructive and jeopardized Greek society.

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