Cleisthenes (/ˈklaɪsθɪˌniːz/; Greek: Κλεισθένης, Kleisthénēs) was an ancient Athenian lawgiver credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508 BCE. For these accomplishments, historians refer to him as "the father of Athenian democracy." He was a member of the aristocratic Alcmaeonid clan. He was the younger son of Megacles and Aragiste making him the maternal grandson of the tyrant Cleisthenes of Sicyon. He was also credited with increasing the power of the Athenian citizens' assembly and for reducing the power of the nobility over Athenian politics.
In 510 BCE, Spartan troops helped the Athenians overthrow their king, the tyrant Hippias, son of Peisistratos. Cleomenes I, king of Sparta, put in place a pro-Spartan oligarchy headed by Isagoras. But his rival Cleisthenes, with the support of the middle class and aided by democrats, took over. Cleomenes intervened in 508 and 506 BCE, but could not stop Cleisthenes, now supported by the Athenians. Through Cleisthenes' reforms, the people of Athens endowed their city with isonomic institutions—equal rights for all citizens (though only men were citizens)—and established ostracism.
With help from the Spartans and the Alcmaeonidae (Cleisthenes' genos, "clan"), he was responsible for overthrowing Hippias, the tyrant son of Pisistratus. After the collapse of Hippias' tyranny, Isagoras and Cleisthenes were rivals for power, but Isagoras won the upper hand by appealing to the Spartan king Cleomenes I to help him expel Cleisthenes. He did so on the pretext of the Alcmaeonid curse. Consequently, Cleisthenes left Athens as an exile, and Isagoras was unrivalled in power within the city. Isagoras set about dispossessing hundreds of Athenians of their homes and exiling them on the pretext that they too were cursed. He also attempted to dissolve the Boule (βουλή), a council of Athenian citizens appointed to run the daily affairs of the city. However, the council resisted, and the Athenian people declared their support of the council. Isagoras and his supporters were forced to flee to the Acropolis, remaining besieged there for two days. On the third day they fled the city and were banished. Cleisthenes was subsequently recalled, along with hundreds of exiles, and he assumed leadership of Athens.
After this victory, Cleisthenes began to reform the government of Athens. He commissioned a bronze memorial from the sculptor Antenor in honor of the lovers and tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton, whom Hippias had executed. In order to forestall strife between the traditional clans, which had led to the tyranny in the first place, he changed the political organization from the four traditional tribes, which were based on family relations and which formed the basis of the upper class Athenian political power network, into ten tribes according to their area of residence (their deme,) which would form the basis of a new democratic power structure. It is thought that there may have been 139 demes (though this is still a matter of debate) which were organized into three groups called trittyes ("thirds"), with ten demes divided among three regions in each trittyes (a city region, asty; a coastal region, paralia; and an inland region, mesogeia). Cleisthenes also abolished patronymics in favour of demonymics (a name given according to the deme to which one belongs), thus increasing Athenians' sense of belonging to a deme. He also established sortition - the random selection of citizens to fill government positions rather than kinship or heredity, a true test of real democracy. He reorganized the Boule, created with 400 members under Solon, so that it had 500 members, 50 from each tribe. He also introduced the bouletic oath, "To advise according to the laws what was best for the people". The court system (Dikasteria — law courts) was reorganized and had from 201–5001 jurors selected each day, up to 500 from each tribe. It was the role of the Boule to propose laws to the assembly of voters, who convened in Athens around forty times a year for this purpose. The bills proposed could be rejected, passed or returned for amendments by the assembly.
Cleisthenes also may have introduced ostracism (first used in 487 BCE), whereby a vote from more than 6,000 of the citizens would exile a citizen for 10 years. The initial trend was to vote for a citizen deemed a threat to the democracy (e.g., by having ambitions to set himself up as tyrant). However, soon after, any citizen judged to have too much power in the city tended to be targeted for exile (e.g., Xanthippus in 485/84 BCE). Under this system, the exiled man's property was maintained, but he was not physically in the city where he could possibly create a new tyranny. One later ancient author records that Cleisthenes himself was the first person to be ostracized.
Cleisthenes called these reforms isonomia ("equality vis à vis law", iso-=equality; nomos=law), instead of demokratia. Cleisthenes' life after his reforms is unknown as no ancient texts mention him thereafter.
In 507 BC, during the time Cleithenes was leading Athenian politics, and probably at his instigation, democratic Athens sent an embassy to Artaphernes, brother of Darius I and Achaemenid Satrap of Asia Minor in the capital of Sardis, looking for Persian assistance in order to resist the threats from Sparta. Herodotus reports that Artaphernes had no previous knowledge of the Athenians, and his initial reaction was "Who are these people?". Artaphernes asked the Athenians for "Water and Earth", a symbol of submission, if they wanted help from the Achaemenid king. The Athenians ambassadors apparently accepted to comply, and to give "Earth and Water". Artaphernes also advised the Athenians that they should receive back the Athenian tyrant Hippias. The Persians threatened to attack Athens if they did not accept Hippias. Nevertheless, the Athenians preferred to remain democratic despite the danger from the Achaemenid Empire, and the ambassadors were disavowed and censured upon their return to Athens.
After that, the Athenians sent to bring back Cleisthenes and the seven hundred households banished by Cleomenes; then they despatched envoys to Sardis, desiring to make an alliance with the Persians; for they knew that they had provoked the Lacedaemonians and Cleomenes to war. When the envoys came to Sardis and spoke as they had been bidden, Artaphrenes son of Hystaspes, viceroy of Sardis, asked them, "What men are you, and where dwell you, who desire alliance with the Persians?" Being informed by the envoys, he gave them an answer whereof the substance was, that if the Athenians gave king Darius earth and water, then he would make alliance with them; but if not, his command was that they should begone. The envoys consulted together and consented to give what was asked, in their desire to make the alliance. So they returned to their own country, and were then greatly blamed for what they had done.— Herodotus 5.73.
There is a possibility that the Achaemenid ruler now saw the Athenians as subjects who had solemnly promissed submission through the gift of "Earth and Water", and that subsequent actions by the Athenians, such as their intervention in the Ionian revolt, were perceived as a break of oath, and a rebellion to the central authority of the Achaemenid ruler.
|Tyrant of Athens||Succeeded by|
|Archon in the Athenian democracy||Succeeded by|
Agariste (; Ancient Greek: Ἀγαρίστη) (fl. 6th century BC, around 560 BC) was the daughter, and possibly the heiress, of the tyrant of Sicyon, Cleisthenes. Her father wanted to marry her to the "best of the Hellenes" and, subsequently, he organized a competition, whose prize was the hand of his own daughter in marriage. According to his declaration, all the eligible young men had to appear in Sicyon within 60 days. Finally, twelve competitors appeared and Cleisthenes held a banquet in his guests' honour.
Cleisthenes preferred the former archon Hippocleides but, during the dinner the suitor embarrassed himself. According to Herodotus, Hippocleides became intoxicated and began to act like a fool; at one point, he stood on his head and kicked his legs in the air, keeping time with the flute music. When Hippocleides was informed that he had "danced away his bride," his response was οὐ φροντίς Ἱπποκλείδῃ, ("Hippocleides doesn't care" or "It doesn't matter to Hippocleides"). Herodotus' description insinuates a bawdy pun: the phrase "danced the bride away" may also be read as "displayed your testicles", in reference to Hippoclides standing on his head while wearing a tunic, which would have exposed his genitals to the guests.
After these unfortunate events, Megacles of the Alcmaeonid clan was chosen to marry Agariste, who gave birth to two sons, Hippocrates and Cleisthenes, the reformer of the Athenian democracy. Hippocrates was the father of another Megacles (ostracized 486 BC) and a daughter Agariste was the mother of Pericles and Ariphron (himself the father of Hippocrates of Athens who died 424 BC). The younger son Cleisthenes was allegedly father of Deinomache (or Dinomache), mother of Alcibiades (d. 404 BC) In either scenario, Agariste was a common ancestress of Pericles and Alcibiades. W. K. Lacey felt that Agariste was an epikleros, or sole heiress who was required to have children to perpetuate her father's family.Alcmaeonidae
The Alcmaeonidae or Alcmaeonids (Ἀλκμαιωνίδαι) were a powerful noble family of ancient Athens, a branch of the Neleides who claimed descent from the mythological Alcmaeon, the great-grandson of Nestor.The first notable Alcmaeonid was Megacles, who was the Archon Eponymous of Athens in the 7th century BC. He was responsible for killing the followers of Cylon of Athens during the attempted coup of 632 BC, as Cylon had taken refuge as a suppliant at the temple of Athena. As a result of their actions, Megacles and his Alcmaeonid followers were the subject of an ongoing curse and were exiled from the city. Even the bodies of buried Alcmaeonidae were dug up and removed from the city limits.
The Alcmaeonids were allowed back into the city in 594 BC, during the archonship of Solon. During the tyranny of Pisistratus, the Alcmaeonid Megacles married his daughter to Pisistratus, but when the tyrant refused to have children with her, Megacles banished him. Later the Alcmaeonids would claim to have been exiled following Pisistratus' return in 546 BC so as to distance themselves from possible accusations of complicity, but epigraphic evidence in fact proves that Cleisthenes was archon for the year 525-4. Megacles was able to marry (for a second or third time) Agarista, the daughter of the tyrant Cleisthenes of Sicyon. They had two sons, Hippocrates and Cleisthenes, the reformer of the Athenian democracy. Hippocrates' daughter was Agariste, the mother of Pericles.
This Cleisthenes overthrew Hippias, the son and successor of Pisistratus, in 508 BC. He had bribed the oracle at Delphi (which the Alcmaeonidae had helped to build while they were in exile) to convince the Spartans to help him, which they reluctantly did. Cleisthenes was, at first, opposed by some who felt the curse made the Alcmaeonidae ineligible to rule; the Spartan king Cleomenes I even turned against Cleisthenes and the latter was briefly exiled once more. However, the citizens called for Cleisthenes to return, and the restored Alcmaeonids were responsible for laying the foundations of Athenian democracy.
The Alcmaeonidae were said to have negotiated for an alliance with the Persians during the Persian Wars, despite the fact that Athens was leading the resistance to the Persian invasion. Pericles and Alcibiades also belonged to the Alcmaeonidae, and during the Peloponnesian War the Spartans referred to the family's curse in an attempt to discredit Pericles. Alcibiades, as the previous generation of Alcmaeonidae had done, tried to ally with the Persians after he was accused of impiety. The family disappeared after Athens's defeat in the Peloponnesian War.Athenian sacred ships
Athenian sacred ships were ancient Athenian ships, often triremes, which had special religious functions such as serving in sacred processions (theoria) or embassies or racing in boat races during religious festivals. The two most famous such ships were the Paralus and the Salaminia, which also served as the messenger ships of the Athenian government in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Other notable ships included one possibly named the Delias, a triakonter (thirty-oared galley) believed to be the ship in which Theseus had sailed to Crete, and which was involved in several traditional theoria to Delos; the vessel was constantly repaired by replacing individual planks to keep it seaworthy while maintaining its identity as the same ship. (For the philosophical question of the ship's identity, see Ship of Theseus.) After the reforms of Cleisthenes, a ship was named for each of the ten tribes that political leader had created; these ships may also have been sacred ships.The Paralus and the Salaminia, and possibly some other sacred ships, served in the Athenian combat fleet. Those two vessels, being particularly swift, were used as scout and messenger ships, but also fought in the line of battle. The Paralus and Salaminia, meanwhile, also performed various tasks for the government; the Paralus appears to have carried most diplomatic missions, and the Salaminia carried official state messages; most famously, it was sent to arrest Alcibiades while that politician was commanding the Sicilian Expedition. These two triremes also had dedicated treasurers, or tamiai.Attica
Attica (Greek: Αττική, Ancient Greek Attikḗ or Attikī́; Ancient Greek: [atːikɛ̌ː] or Modern: [atiˈci]), or the Attic peninsula, is a historical region that encompasses the city of Athens, the capital of Greece.
It is a peninsula projecting into the Aegean Sea, bordering on Boeotia to the north and Megaris to the west.
The history of Attica is tightly linked with that of Athens, and specifically the Golden Age of Athens during the classical period. Ancient Attica (Athens city-state) was divided into demoi or municipalities from the reform of Cleisthenes in 508/7 BC, grouped into three zones: urban (astu) in the region of Athens main city and Piraeus (port of Athens), coastal (paralia) along the coastline and inland (mesogeia) in the interior.
The southern tip of the peninsula, known as Laurion, was an important mining region.
The modern administrative region of Attica is more extensive than the historical region and includes Megaris as part of the regional unit West Attica, and the Saronic Islands and Cythera, as well as the municipality of Troizinia on the Peloponnesian mainland, as the regional unit Islands.Boule (ancient Greece)
In cities of ancient Greece, the boule (Greek: βουλή, boulē; plural βουλαί, boulai) was a council of over 500 citizens (βουλευταί, bouleutai) appointed to run daily affairs of the city. Originally a council of nobles advising a king, boulai evolved according to the constitution of the city: In oligarchies boule positions might have been hereditary, while in democracies members were typically chosen by lot (→ Sortition), and served for one year. Little is known about the workings of many boulai, except in the case of Athens, for which extensive material has survived.Classical Athens
The city of Athens (Ancient Greek: Ἀθῆναι, Athênai [a.tʰɛ̂ː.nai̯]; Modern Greek: Αθήναι Athine [a.ˈθi.ne̞] or, more commonly and in singular, Αθήνα Athina [a.'θi.na]) during the classical period of Ancient Greece (480–323 BC) was the major urban center of the notable polis (city-state) of the same name, located in Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Isagoras. This system remained remarkably stable, and with a few brief interruptions remained in place for 180 years, until 322 BC (aftermath of Lamian War). The peak of Athenian hegemony was achieved in the 440s to 430s BC, known as the Age of Pericles.
In the classical period, Athens was a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Akademia and Aristotle's Lyceum, Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization, and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then-known European continent.Cleisthenes (disambiguation)
Cleisthenes can refer to:
Cleisthenes, the reformer of ancient Athens.
Cleisthenes of Sicyon, the ancient tyrant of Sicyon.
Cleisthenes (son of Sibyrtius), an Athenian theoros satirized by Aristophanes
Cleisthenes (fish), a genus of flounders.Cleisthenes (fish)
Cleisthenes is a genus of righteye flounders native to the northwest Pacific Ocean.Cleisthenes (son of Sibyrtius)
Cleisthenes (; Greek: Κλεισθένης, also Clisthenes or Kleisthenes) was a prominent Athenian delegate (theoros) during the Peloponnesian War (431 BC). The comedian Aristophanes uses him frequently as the butt of jokes and as a character in his plays, as he was apparently well known in Athens for being effeminate and/or homosexual. He is notably mentioned in The Frogs, The Clouds, Lysistrata, and Thesmophoriazusae.Cleisthenes herzensteini
Cleisthenes herzensteini is a flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae. It is a demersal fish that lives on bottoms in the temperate waters of the northwest Pacific, from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, Gulf of Bohai and the East China Sea. It can grow up to 47 centimetres (19 in) in length, though its length is typically around 31 centimetres (12 in). Its maximum recorded weight is 1.215 kilograms (2.68 lb), and it can live for up to 15 years.Cleisthenes of Sicyon
Cleisthenes (; Greek: Κλεισθένης, also Clisthenes or Kleisthenes) was the tyrant of Sicyon from c. 600–560 BC, who aided in the First Sacred War against Kirrha that destroyed that city in 595 BC. He was also said to have organized with success a war against Argos because of his anti-Dorian feelings. After his victory he abolished all the rhapsodists of Homer, because they vaunted the citizens of Argos. The key innovation of his reign, which Herodotus mentions, is the reformation of the tribal system in the city of Sicyon. Herodotus states that he gave new names to all the tribes, calling his own non-Doric tribe, rulers of the people, and naming the other three Doric tribes after various animals. Herodotus does not however, relate exactly what Cleisthenes' reform was. Whatever this reform was, it must have been successful for all the tribes kept their names for a long time, even after the death of Cleisthenes.
Cleisthenes of Sicyon organized a competition with his beautiful daughter Agariste as the prize. The two main competitors for her were the Alcmaeonid Megacles, and Hippocleides. Because Hippocleides made a fool of himself by dancing drunkenly in front of Cleisthenes, Megacles was chosen to marry Agariste.
A relative of Cleisthenes was the later Cleisthenes of Athens and Agariste, the mother of Pericles.
His death is estimated around 532 BC.Cleisthenes pinetorum
Cleisthenes pinetorum is a flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae. It is a demersal fish that lives on sublittoral sand and mud bottoms at depths of between 50 and 200 metres (160 and 660 ft). Its native habitat is the temperate waters of the northwest Pacific, around Japan, Korea and Taiwan.Deme
In Ancient Greece, a deme or demos (Greek: δῆμος) modern Municipality was a suburb or a subdivision of Athens and other city-states. Demes as simple subdivisions of land in the countryside seem to have existed in the 6th century BC and earlier, but did not acquire particular significance until the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508 BC. In those reforms, enrollment in the citizen-lists of a deme became the requirement for citizenship; prior to that time, citizenship had been based on membership in a phratry, or family group. At this same time, demes were established in the main city of Athens itself, where they had not previously existed; in all, at the end of Cleisthenes' reforms, Athens was divided into 139 demes to which one should add Berenikidai, established in 224/223 BC, Apollonieis (201/200 BC) and Antinoeis (126/127). The establishment of demes as the fundamental units of the state weakened the gene, or aristocratic family groups, that had dominated the phratries.A deme functioned to some degree as a polis in miniature, and indeed some demes, such as Eleusis and Acharnae, were in fact significant towns. Each deme had a demarchos who supervised its affairs; various other civil, religious, and military functionaries existed in various demes. Demes held their own religious festivals and collected and spent revenue.Demes were combined with other demes from the same area to make trittyes, larger population groups, which in turn were combined to form the ten tribes, or phylai of Athens. Each tribe contained one trittys from each of three regions: the city, the coast, and the inland area.First Sacred War
The First Sacred War or Cirraean war, was fought between the Amphictyonic League of Delphi and the city of Kirrha. At the beginning of the 6th century BC the Pylaeo-Delphic Amphictyony, controlled by the Thessalians, attempted to take hold of the Sacred Land (or Kirrhaean Plain) of Apollo which resulted in this war. The conflict arose due to Kirrha's frequent robbery and mistreatment of pilgrims going to Delphi and their encroachments upon Delphic land. The war, which culminated with the defeat and destruction of Kirrha, is notable for the use of chemical warfare at the Siege of Kirrha, in the form of hellebore being used to poison the city's water supply. The war's end was marked by the organization of the first Pythian Games.Hippocleides
Hippocleides (also Hippoclides) (Greek: Ἱπποκλείδης), the son of Teisander (Τείσανδρος), was an Athenian nobleman, who served as Eponymous Archon for the year 566 BC – 565 BC.
He was a member of the Philaidae, a wealthy Athenian family that was opposed to the Peisistratos family. During his term as archon he set up the statue of Athena Promachos (πρὀμαχος) in Athens and oversaw a reorganization of the Panathenaia festival.As a young man he competed for the hand of Agariste, the daughter of Cleisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon. By the end of the competitions, only Hippocleides and Megacles remained. According to Herodotus (6.129-130), Hippocleides became intoxicated during a dinner party with Cleisthenes, and began to act like a fool; at one point he stood on his head and kicked his legs in the air, keeping time with the flute music. When Hippocleides was informed by Cleisthenes "Oh son of Teisander, you have just danced away your marriage," his response was "οὐ φροντὶς Ἱπποκλείδῃ", ("Hippocleides doesn't care" or literally "No care for Hippocleides"). The phrase, according to Herodotus, became a common expression in the Greek world.The phrase was well known to later authors; Aristophanes paraphrases it in The Wasps, and Plutarch, who disliked Herodotus, says the author "would dance away the truth" like Hippocleides.John Henry Newman applied this saying to himself: "I am aware that what I have been saying will, with many men, be doing credit to my imagination at the expense of my judgment—'Hippoclides doesn't care;' I am not setting myself up as a pattern of good sense or of anything else: I am but vindicating myself from the charge of dishonesty."T. E. Lawrence also had the phrase "ου φροντις" inscribed over the cottage door at Clouds Hill in Dorset.Isagoras
Isagoras (Greek: Ἰσαγόρας), son of Tisander, was an Athenian aristocrat in the late 6th century BC.
He had remained in Athens during the tyranny of Hippias, but after Hippias was overthrown, he became involved in a struggle for power with Cleisthenes, a fellow aristocrat. In 508 BC he was elected archon eponymous, but Cleisthenes opposed him, with support from the majority of the population. Isagoras requested support from the Spartan king Cleomenes I, an old friend who had earlier been given hospitality by Isagoras. According to Herodotus, Cleomenes had had an affair with Isagoras' wife.
Isagoras, with Cleomenes' help, expelled Cleisthenes and other members of the Alcmaeonidae family on pretext of the Alcmaeonidaean stain (see Megacles). Cleisthenes' supporters and the ordinary Athenian citizens revolted against Isagoras' tyranny, and ended up trapping Isagoras and his Spartan allies on the Acropolis for two days. On the third day they made a truce, allowed Cleomenes and Isagoras to escape, and executed 300 of Isagoras' supporters. Cleisthenes then returned to the city and became archon in the democracy.Pandion (hero)
Pandion ( or ; Ancient Greek: Πανδίων) was the eponymous hero of the Attic tribe Pandionis, which was created as part of the tribal reforms of Cleisthenes at the end of the sixth century BC. He is usually assumed to be one of the two legendary kings of Athens, Pandion I or Pandion II.Paralia (Attica)
The Paralia (Greek: Παραλία, lit. 'the sea-side/coast') was a geographical and administrative region (trittys) of ancient Attica.
The term designated the coasts of Attica, but was also generally used for the entire portion of Attica east of Mount Hymettus.The term acquired a technical meaning with the reforms of Cleisthenes in c. 508 BC, when each of the ten Attic tribes was made to territory from comprise three zones (trittyes), urban (asty, the city of Athens), interior (mesogeia) and coastal (paralia). In the Classical period, the paralia comprised about 40 settlements (demoi).Phratry
In ancient Greece, a phratry (phratria, Greek: φ(ρ)ατρία, "brotherhood", "kinfolk", derived from φρατήρ meaning "brother") was a social division of the Greek tribe (phyle). The nature of these phratries is, in the words of one historian, "the darkest problem among the [Greek] social institutions." Little is known about the role they played in Greek social life, but they existed from the Greek Dark Ages until the 2nd century BC; Homer refers to them several times, in passages that appear to describe the social environment of his times.In Athens, enrollment in a phratry seems to have been the basic requirement for citizenship in the state before the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508 BC. From their peak of prominence in the Dark Ages, when they appear to have been a substantial force in Greek social life, phratries gradually declined in significance throughout the classical period as other groups (such as political parties) gained influence at their cost.
Phratries contained smaller kin groups called gene; these appear to have arisen later than phratries, and it appears that not all members of phratries belonged to a genos; membership in these smaller groups may have been limited to elites. On an even smaller level, the basic kinship group of ancient Greek societies was the oikos (household).
Ancient Athenian statesmen