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Herodotus:

The Athenian Tyrant Peisistratus, from Histories I, 59-64


59. Of these races then Croesus was informed that the Athenian was held subject and torn with faction by Peisistratos the son of Hippocrates, who then was despot of the Athenians. For to Hippocrates, when as a private citizen he went to view the Olympic games, a great marvel had occurred. After he had offered the sacrifice, the caldrons which were standing upon the hearth, full of pieces of flesh and of water, boiled without fire under them and ran over. And Chilon the Lacedemonian, who chanced to have been present and to have seen the marvel, advised Hippocrates first not to bring into his house a wife to bear him children, and secondly, if he happened to have one already, to dismiss her, and if he chanced to have a son, to disown him. When Chilon had thus recommended, Hippocrates, they say, was not willing to be persuaded, and so there was born to him afterwards this Peisistratos; who, when the Athenians of the shore were at feud with those of the plain, Megacles the son of Alcmaion being leader of the first faction, and Lycurgos the son of Aristolaïdes of that of the plain, aimed at the despotism for himself and gathered a third party. So then, after having collected supporters and called himself leader of the men of the mountain-lands,  he contrived a device as follows:—he inflicted wounds upon himself and upon his mules, and then drove his car into the market-place, as if he had just escaped from his opponents, who, as he alleged, had desired to kill him when he was driving into the country: and he asked the commons that he might obtain some protection from them, for before this he had gained reputation in his command against the Megarians, during which he took Nisaia and performed other signal service. And the commons of the Athenians being deceived gave him those  men chosen from the dwellers in the city who became not indeed the spear-men  of Peisistratos but his club-men; for they followed behind him bearing wooden clubs. And these made insurrection with Peisistratos and obtained possession of the Acropolis. Then Peisistratos was ruler of the Athenians, not having disturbed the existing magistrates nor changed the ancient laws; but he administered the State under that constitution of things which was already established, ordering it fairly and well.

60. However, no long time after this the followers of Megacles and those of Lycurgos joined together and drove him forth. Thus Peisistratos had obtained possession of Athens for the first time, and thus he lost the power before he had it firmly rooted. But those who had driven out Peisistratos became afterwards at feud with one another again. And Megacles, harassed by the party strife, sent a message to Peisistratos asking whether he was willing to have his daughter to wife on condition of becoming despot. And Peisistratos having accepted the proposal and made an agreement on these terms, they contrived with a view to his return a device the most simple by far, as I think, that ever was practised, considering at least that it was devised at a time when the Hellenic race had been long marked off from the Barbarian as more skilful and further removed from foolish simplicity, and among the Athenians who are accounted the first of the Hellenes in ability. In the deme of Paiania there was a woman whose name was Phya, in height four cubits all but three fingers,  and also fair of form. This woman they dressed in full armour and caused her to ascend a chariot and showed her the bearing in which she might best beseem her part, and so they drove to the city, having sent on heralds to run before them, who, when they arrived at the city, spoke that which had been commanded them, saying as follows: "O Athenians, receive with favour Peisistratos, whom Athene herself, honouring him most of all men, brings back to her Acropolis." So the heralds went about hither and thither saying this, and straightway there came to the demes in the country round a report that Athene was bringing Peisistratos back, while at the same time the men of the city, persuaded that the woman was the very goddess herself, were paying worship to the human creature and receiving Peisistratos.

61. So having received back the despotism in the manner which has been said, Peisistratos according to the agreement made with Megacles married the daughter of Megacles; but as he had already sons who were young men, and as the descendants of Alcmaion were said to be under a curse, therefore not desiring that children should be born to him from his newly-married wife, he had commerce with her not in the accustomed manner. And at first the woman kept this secret, but afterwards she told her mother, whether in answer to her inquiry or not I cannot tell; and the mother told her husband Megacles. He then was very indignant that he should be dishonoured by Peisistratos; and in his anger straightway he proceeded to compose his quarrel with the men of his faction. And when Peisistratos heard of that which was being done against himself, he departed wholly from the land and came to Eretria, where he took counsel together with his sons: and the advice of Hippias having prevailed, that they should endeavour to win back the despotism, they began to gather gifts of money from those States which owed them obligations for favours received: and many contributed great sums, but the Thebans surpassed the rest in the giving of money. Then, not to make the story long, time elapsed and at last everything was prepared for their return. For certain Argives came as mercenaries from the Peloponnesus, and a man of Naxos had come to them of his own motion, whose name was Lygdamis, and showed very great zeal in providing both money and men.

62. So starting from Eretria after the lapse of ten years  they returned back; and in Attica the first place of which they took possession was Marathon. While they were encamping here, their partisans from the city came to them, and also others flowed in from the various demes, to whom despotic rule was more welcome than freedom. So these were gathering themselves together; but the Athenians in the city, so long as Peisistratos was collecting the money, and afterwards when he took possession of Marathon, made no account of it; but when they heard that he was marching from Marathon towards the city, then they went to the rescue against him. These then were going in full force to fight against the returning exiles, and the forces of Peisistratos, as they went towards the city starting from Marathon, met them just when they came to the temple of Athene Pallenis, and there encamped opposite to them. Then moved by divine guidance  there came into the presence of Peisistratos Amphilytos the Arcarnanian,  a soothsayer, who approaching him uttered an oracle in hexameter verse, saying thus:

"But now the cast hath been made and the net hath been widely extended, And in the night the tunnies will dart through the moon-lighted waters."

63. This oracle he uttered to him being divinely inspired, and Peisistratos, having understood the oracle and having said that he accepted the prophecy which was uttered, led his army against the enemy. Now the Athenians from the city were just at that time occupied with the morning meal, and some of them after their meal with games of dice or with sleep; and the forces of Peisistratos fell upon the Athenians and put them to flight. Then as they fled, Peisistratos devised a very skilful counsel, to the end that the Athenians might not gather again into one body but might remain scattered abroad. He mounted his sons on horseback and sent them before him; and overtaking the fugitives they said that which was commanded them by Peisistratos, bidding them be of good cheer and that each man should depart to his own home.

64. Thus then the Athenians did, and so Peisistratos for the third time obtained possession of Athens, and he firmly rooted his despotism by many foreign mercenaries and by much revenue of money, coming partly from the land itself and partly from about the river Strymon, and also by taking as hostages the sons of those Athenians who had remained in the land and had not at once fled, and placing them in the hands of Naxos; for this also Peisistratos conquered by war and delivered into the charge of Lygdamis. Moreover besides this he cleansed the island of Delos in obedience to the oracles; and his cleansing was of the following kind:—so far as the view from the temple extended  he dug up all the dead bodies which were buried in this part and removed them to another part of Delos. So Peisistratos was despot of the Athenians; but of the Athenians some had fallen in the battle, and others of them with the sons of Alcmaion were exiles from their native land.


Source: https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2707/pg2707-images.html

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Paul Halsall, February 2023
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