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Persai —12 and especially Sousa is also, less surprisingly, seen as a polis with its polietai lines , , , , , Hatzopoulos in Buraselis ed. Unity and Units of Antiquity, —8. Peel, in Tonkin, et al eds History and Ethnicity, — Quotations from p. Morgan, PCPhS 37 , — More distanced is F. Hell 6. Tritsch, Klio 22 , 1— Add P. Wheatley, in Ucko et al. Roebuck, Hesperia 41 , 96—, and C. Rhodes, pp. I Greci, ii. LSJ s. Scully, op. Snodgrass, JHS 85 , —22; P.

Cartledge, JHS 97 , 11—27; J. AJP , 45—58, and Basileus, 81 and Bondi, in Krings ed. I am grateful to my colleague Professor Alan Millard for guidance on these matters and for bringing this volume to my attention. For earlier periods cf. Albright, in CA. Smith, pp. Woolf, OJA 12 , ff. Santos Velasco, Antiquity 68 , —99; M. Almagro-Gorbea, in Cunliffe and Keay, op. Renfrew and 3 A. My thanks to all too many to name individually who contributed in such ways. More immediately, my thanks to the Leverhulme Trust for providing the resource of time, to allow me to make a proper job of this paper.

There are sharp differences of opinion about these things. My reconstruction of social development in postMycenaean Greece is briefly as follows. The chiefdoms represent a severe devolution from the centralized mini-kingdoms of the Late Bronze Age. The archaeological evidence from sub-Mycenaean to Late Geometric gives us a clear idea of just how severe the civilizational decline was, and how long it took for states to form again in Greece.

As in all chiefdoms, unequal power and status arrangements separated the basileis both paramount and subordinate from the rest of the demos, but, typical of low-level chiefdoms, these arrangements gave them little coercive power. During the eighth century, as a result of economic changes triggered by rising populations, the leading families gained differential access to the means of subsistence, which gave them real coercive power.

The changes at the top were particularly dramatic during the formational period. The office of the paramount basileus was severely downgraded and its powers and functions were distributed among a number of governmental roles, which were non-hereditary, limited in term of office, and restricted in scope. The system of officials and boards, joined to the traditional institutions of the boule and the agora, was an efficient response to the growing size and complexity of the communities, and also gave the landed nobility a platform for social control that had not been available to the basileis of a century earlier.

Ordinary people around experienced considerably less individual autonomy and had less power collectively than their great-grandparents had. A much greater percentage of them than before were economically dependent on elite households, which were much wealthier than they had been before. For a period of several generations c.

I will argue that the locus of majority power was the class of middling farmers. In the view proposed here, the polis-state emerged out of established communities of free farmers, with an ancient tradition of citizen rights within the demos.

The relationship of the families with their local rulers basileis and, as the demos, with the paramount basileus was reciprocal. Other scholars see fundamental discontinuity, arguing that strict class stratification existed continuously from the Mycenaean period. Throughout the Dark Age, a closed aristocracy of birth and wealth ruled as masters over a large dependent and economically exploited peasantry.

Archaic Age leaders had actual power, that is, they could apply sanctions. Let us be clear in our definitions. The essential differences between authority and power lie in the ability to control. Authority rules mainly through persuasion and example, and tradition. Power, while not neglecting these, rules by compulsion. The measure of power is the sanctions it can impose.

By sanctions is meant the mechanisms of restrictive and punitive social control that are available to the leaders. Rulership of the restrictive and punitive kind, according to sociologists, comes about when, and only when, first of all, the leaders control the sources and distribution of wealth, and thus can offer or withhold the means of subsistence, and second, when they possess some organized means of physical coercion, and thus can directly force mass obedience.


The ideological acceptance of the rulers as a special and superior class of persons legitimizes their economic exploitation and use of physical force. Their decision and response, therefore, are a good measurement of relative power at that time. Epic poetry naturally concentrates on confrontations between high-ranking individuals. Force is the ultimate sanction; its possession assures compliance. There are limits, however, to the application or threat of violence in Homer. While chiefs, backed up by their friends and relations philoi and retainers therapontes , are able physically to coerce individuals, it is made plain that a chief and his followers, or a combination of chiefs and their followers, could not force the collective people to comply with their will.

Plainly, though, they had the power, through sheer numbers and righteousness, to force the leaders to comply with their will. The powerlessness of the leaders in the face of mass opposition is one of the things that separates chiefdoms from states. We should regard this requirement rather as an ideological sanction.

To enrich the basileus with gifts was in accordance with the natural order of human society. It was themis. The givers think of them as gifts; and gifts suppose a reciprocal gift. This is what we would expect in Dark Age Greece where, from the eleventh to the eighth century, there was much unused and underused land and few people. This is not a landscape in which to imagine a large portion of the demos being dependent on the chiefs for their daily bread. The assumption, on the contrary, is that the member families hold allotments of farmland kleroi which provide them with an independent living.

The answer is that their compliance is rooted in the belief that Zeus has ordained and sustains the office of basileus. The Greeks of , for whom the chiefdom was an ancient institution, could not have entertained any notion or wish that the system could change. This implies, by the way, that the low-level chiefdom was functional, that is, that it served the practical requirements of government effectively and efficiently until it changed in the eighth century.

In Homeric society, charismatic authority is especially connected to military leadership. Nireus was the sanctioned leader of the Symeans because he was the son of the anax Charops. A fundamental factor of the instability of chiefdoms is that leadership roles in chiefdom societies are both ascribed and achieved. What gave an ineffectual warrior like Nireus the right to lead the people, and to sacrifice to the gods on their behalf, and to judge their disputes, was the office itself which, by virtue of these functions, endowed the holder with a halo of charismatic authority.

On the other hand, it becomes questionable whether the lineage of Charops will keep the power in Syme, since competitiveness and merit by achievement are dominant cultural values. A charismatic personality would be magnified by the traditional authority of the office and vice versa. A strong leader could make the chieftainship powerful, while a less able leader was protected, or at least cushioned somewhat, from threats to his tenure by rivals or the disgust of the people.

Thus, the suitors have severe misgivings about assassinating Telemachus, despite his total lack of power. Let us note that the religious function per se was not a source of sanction. In many societies on the way to statehood the religious role of the leaders expands enormously, giving them exceptional ideological power from which they derive economic and political power. There was none of that in Greece. The Homeric basileus is not a priest-king; he neither speaks for the gods, nor can he threaten the people with divine punishment if he is disobeyed.

Thus, in brief, a basileus may claim his word and will as law, yet this will be so only if he can make it so, and the structural means available to him to do this are extremely limited. When we add up and average out, so to speak, refusal and compliance costs to both sides in the power equation, we find a rough equivalency. The leaders and the people understood that their relationship was reciprocal. III By , power relations had altered considerably in the areas of the emerging city-states.

The governing elite were now big landowners who increased their ownership of farmland at a time of rapid population growth. Tighter economic control was accompanied by tighter political control. Throughout the seventh century, for the most part, oligarchies of wealth and birth retained exclusive control of the positions of authority, the magistracies and the councils, and constricted the power of the assembly to initiate public policy.

Governmental power was greatly enhanced by the mighty sanction of the law, which evolved rapidly as an instrument of social control in the seventh century. On both the practical and ideological levels, the costs of refusing to obey the laws and the magistrates were greatly higher than the compliance costs. First, the governors of the city-states, lacking a state police force, and with only the resources of their own households and clients, were collectively little better equipped to coerce an unwilling majority by physical force than the Dark Age basileis had been.

Second, rule by laws that were arrived at publicly and posted in public naturally worked towards levelling the advantages of wealth and birth and curbing aristocratic excesses. By the sixth century, even though the few still controlled the assembly, councils and law-courts, the administration of justice was becoming an agent for restoring balance and reciprocity. Third, the leadership lost ideological authority in the transition from the chiefdom to the city-state.

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Though the laws had majesty, the magistracies did not. The polis-leaders inherited none of the 24 WALTER DONLAN charisma that had attached to the figure of a basileus; the new governmental roles were intentionally depersonalized and functional posts, with no tradition behind them and no association with divine authority. The self-styled agathoi claimed that their illustrious ancestry, old wealth, and ennobling paideia raised them far above the rest of the people, towards whom they displayed an undisguised contempt, calling them hoi kakoi and other words that described their economic, mental, moral, aesthetic, and genetic inferiority.

This construction of society, of course, had little legitimacy among the kakoi. In claiming to be better than the common citizens, aristocrats could ultimately only claim to be better citizens. A key facet of the aristocratic self-presentation was the image of themselves as hoi chrestoi, the useful and the capable, in the polis, as the rest were achreioi, unfit to lead. Yet the increase of aristocratic power, though significant, was not enough for them to rule unchallenged and unchecked. Only power can curb power. In the seventh century, the checks on aristocratic dominance came from the small-farmer hoplites, the direct descendants of the rank-and-file warriors of the chiefdoms.

Even though the old vertical ties still held to some extent, the hoplite farmers were emerging as a distinct social and economic third group, neither the rich nor the poor, and occupying a social level in the society that was ambivalently positioned between the superior and inferior families. The type of polity will be determined to a great extent by the numbers of people in the three groups. Unfortunately, we have almost no numerical evidence. My guess, which is all one can do, is that in the seventh-century poleis, on a rough average, the ruling elite defined as those whose landholdings afforded them a leisured life-style made up, at the very most, 20 per cent of the families.

My guess is that the exploited group, those with insufficient land to support themselves, or none at all, amounted to 30 per cent of the families at most. The 50 per cent, or more, of citizens who were neither rich nor dependent tenants or thetes ranged in the seventh century from the well-off, though not leisured, families to those who lived at a meagre subsistence level. Assuming that half of all the free men physically able to bear arms met the hoplite requirement a figure that I consider a minimum, rather than a maximum , then as many as six out of ten of the non-dependent-farmer group fought in the phalanx.

If we take the more frequently cited estimate of a third as the maximum, then only one out of five independent farm-families and only about one of eight of all non-elite families furnished hoplites. Three of eight non-agatboi seems more reasonable. They were visibly different from the poor, who fought as light-armed troops gumnetes and were quite possibly excluded from the assemblies at that time. And they were distinct from the rich and well-born agathoi, who commanded them in war and peace and had their own social orbit from which the middle group were excluded. There are indications that they had articulated a self-identification as hoi mesoi by the sixth century.

When they acted collectively, as in the militia and the assembly, in both of which they were the majority, they made a formidable group, and their opinion was powerful. Paradoxically, the division of the middle mass of Dark Age households into two distinct strata, with different refusal and compliance costs, increased the influence of the hoplite families in the power arrangements.

V It is historically, and logically, sound to conclude that the mesoi were the independent variable in the frequent and extremely rapid constitutional shifts within the Archaic and Classical city-states. Where on the continuum from narrow oligarchies to full democracies a community stood was largely determined by the hoplite-farmer group. If the middle 30 per cent of families opposed the status quo, and sympathized with the bottom half of the citizenry, the balance of power shifted from the elite to the mass.

In like manner, these farmer-hoplites could assume an active role in curbing aristocratic in-fighting. Van Wees, Status Warriors, See Raaflaub, pp. See K. Zweihundert Jahre Homer-Forschung, —15; van Wees, op. Fried, op. Runciman, Comp. Haas, The Evolution of the Prehistoric State, —8, —70, —6. Earle, in Earle ed.

Chiefdoms: Power, Economy, and Ideology, 8. See Donlan, CW 75 , — Carlier, op. For an attempt to show how they did this, see Donlan, MH 46 , —5. Solon, 4. Callinus fr. Officials and colleges continued to bear the title of basileus, appropriately, since their responsibilities were judicial and religious. See J. This kind of social class terminology expanded in the sixth and even more greatly in the fifth century.

Morris, op. Starr, op. More likely closer to 15 per cent. The ruling families perhaps made up 5 per cent of the population. Van Wees, op. Estimates of one-third to less than a half: A. Snodgrass, JHS 85 , ; P. Cartledge, JHS 97 , For example, Phocylides, 12 Diehl. Of the Boeotian forces at the battle of Delium Thuc. See Hanson, op. The assembly elected Pittacus aisumnetes in Mytilene around Alcaeus, fr.

This has important consequences for our understanding of the evolution of the early Greek polis. By contrast, the hoplite phalanx later required the involvement of larger masses of equally equipped and trained soldiers. Thus a new class of citizens, the free farmers who could afford the panoply, were integrated into the polis army and eventually achieved political integration as well. This ended the phase of elite domination of the polis and ushered in an age of egalitarian constitutions. Essentially, that means, military change caused political change.

This theory has a venerable tradition. Aristotle anticipated it,5 Eduard Meyer and Max Weber elaborated and generalized it, and Martin Nilsson formulated its essence eloquently: Overcome by the new tactic and its demands, the Greek army of knights and the Greek aristocratic state vanished, just as later the army of knights and the feudal world of the Middle Ages were wiped out by the invention of gun powder.

Snodgrass demonstrated that from about the elements of the hoplite panoply, of various origin, were gradually combined and adapted, and by about the equipment, formation and fighting tactics of the hoplite phalanx were fully developed. This evolution, says Snodgrass, took place almost entirely after Homer, and brought about a profound military, political and mental change around the mid-seventh century.

On the one hand, Detienne and Cartledge pointed out that the hoplite shield with its double grip must have been created specifically for the needs of a massed formation. The hoplite panoply was unsuitable for individual combat, focused uniquely on frontal fighting and depended on a close-ranked formation. Hence it must have been developed precisely to make an existing mode of fighting more effective. Accordingly, in the second half of the eighth century, at the latest, fighting tactics must have begun to change in the direction of more densely packed mass formations, and this development necessitated, and in turn was advanced by, the development of armour and weapons that were suited particularly for this type of fighting.

Snodgrass now agrees that the long transitional phase of experimentation with new equipment, which he thought preceded the phalanx, in fact was largely identical with the gradual development of the phalanx itself. Their reconstructions of Homeric battle differ widely, but all have found consistent evidence for mass fighting. Such insights must have been at the root of the idea of the hoplite phalanx.

It eliminates not just a stone in a mosaic but one of the pillars on which traditional views of the evolution of the polis and Archaic Greek society have rested. If the elite did not dominate the battlefield and monopolize military power, the entire picture changes. In describing this war, the poet naturally utilized phenomena that were familiar to his time.

One of the scenes on the shield of Achilles combines several phases of such neighbourhood conflicts Il.

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Quite logically, the Trojan War resembles a war between two neighbouring cities: Troy on one side and the temporary Achaean polis on the shore17 on the other side of a large and fertile plain—a familiar constellation and often a cause of war throughout Greek history. Communal involvement in war is mentioned often in passing and thus was normal. The earliest wars between neighbouring poleis are attested precisely for, but not earlier than, the last third of the eighth century: the conquest of Messenia, the Lelantine War, and many others.

Conversely, naval raids appear on early vases. Herodotus offers stories of private warrior bands roaming the coasts of the Mediterranean. Private or semi-private actions are attested through the early fifth century and may account for much of the early fighting, for example, between Athenians and Aeginetans, Megarians, and Mytilenaeans, which later generations naturally interpreted as communal.

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Such extensive convergence between the epic world and history is significant. With few possible exceptions pointed out by Morris , the population, vastly reduced in numbers compared to the Bronze Age, lived in scattered villages, surrounded by farms and pastures and consisting of small groups of families which engaged in subsistence farming and herding, and 28 KURT A.

There simply were not enough bodies and there probably was little need for massed fighting in any kind of close-ranked formation. From the tenth to the eighth centuries the population grew with increasing speed. Contacts with other peoples broadened. The economy was transformed. Settlements expanded, new ones sprung up, previously unoccupied lands were cultivated.

As the polis territories were filled up, land became precious, resulting in conflicts both within each polis and with neighbouring poleis. The citizens thus had to be able to defend their fields. The response was massed fighting in communal armies, made possible and necessitated by increased population densities, increasing and widespread wealth sufficient to afford the necessary equipment, and the new organizational structures of the early polis.

As fighting for the existential base, if not the existence, of the polis became increasingly important, ways were sought to improve the effectiveness of the citizen army: technological and tactical changes interacted with economic and social changes to produce, at the end of a long process, the hoplite phalanx. By the late eighth century, then, mass fighting in communal armies and wars between neighbouring communities had become part of the normal experience of life—so much so that the poet of the Iliad naturally incorporated them into his descriptions.

With the consensus on a gradual development rather than sudden introduction of the hoplite system, and with changes in our understanding of tyranny, this theory has become untenable. Those who failed to qualify did not count for much socially and politically. To say that tyrants were supported by hoplites is thus equivalent to saying that they found support among those citizens who mattered. This has nothing to do with the phalanx per se. It is not tenable either if for at least a full century before mass fighting had been an integral part of the experience of war and in fact provided the impetus for the development of the phalanx.

To emphasize, I do not deny the importance of the military factor but I question its role as sole or primary agent of political change. This is a tall claim. It obviously cannot stand only on the basis of the military evidence discussed so far. Objections will be raised immediately. In the remainder of this chapter, I shall present arguments to support my thesis and refute such objections.

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First, Snodgrass had good reasons to date the breakthrough of the phalanx to the mid-seventh century. Around that time, cheap, mass-produced lead hoplite figurines were dedicated in Spartan sanctuaries in rapidly increasing numbers; a seal found in Sparta represents hoplites as well; hoplite equipment was dedicated in other sanctuaries, subsequent to the disappearance of warrior burials with arms; the poetry of Archilochus and especially Tyrtaeus seems to reflect changing fighting modes although this is contested , and protocorinthian vases show pictures with hoplites and phalanx fighting.

But was it provoked by the introduction rather than the perfection and formalization of phalanx warfare? Even after a long and gradual development, such formalization must have been accompanied by incisive changes in the polis. Organizational structures needed to be introduced, definitions who qualified, who not? Second, Cartledge emphasizes a significant point: since hoplites had to provide their own equipment, not only economic capacity but also the will to enroll was required, and that made the hoplites members in a civic corporation and explains the apportionment of political prerogatives in accordance with military function.

The panoply was not inexpensive. But questions remain. Did the hoplite-farmers really, as is always assumed, represent only a small segment of the community? I seriously doubt it but cannot discuss this here. If so, even more men could have qualified, and economic capacity might initially have been a relative, not absolute, criterion. And, if being a hoplite determined status, would citizens not be willing to make sacrifices and buy a shield rather than, say, a new coat? At any rate, I object to the assumption, underlying traditional arguments, that hoplites might have been unwilling to serve.

If the enemy attacked your fields, you would want to help defend them: the hoplites fought on their land for their land. This determined the social and ideological implications of the phalanx from the beginning and for centuries to come. Nor should the linking of military and political aspects in timocratic systems be overstated. The basic division was threefold: those who owned horses the status symbol of the elite , those who depending on which interpretation of zeugitai we accept fought in the phalanx or, perhaps more probably, owned a yoke of oxen the status symbol of the citizens who mattered , and the rest.

The fact is rather that the Homeric assembly plays a crucial role. Every action and decision with importance to the community takes place in an assembly, whether at war, on an expedition, or in the peaceful polis. The people witness such actions, listen to the debate, express their approval or dissent collectively by voice or even feet!

In the interactive model I propose this makes sense. As the polis evolved, the men who owned the land fought in the army to defend the territory of the polis and sat in the assembly to participate in its decisions. These men were politically integrated all along, to the extent possible and normal at the time. At the same time, the former elite of village heads evolved into a stratified aristocracy.

But, under the conditions of Dark Age Greece, these leaders held precarious positions and did not stand far above their men. In the evolving polis they lacked opportunities as well to set themselves up as a distant, rigidly separate class. Citizen participation in politics, in an elementary but communally important way, involving the same men who served in the army, evidently was compatible with elite domination.

Elite ideology aimed at enhancing such domination and increasing the distance between elite and masses. Fourth, this brings up another important point. Contrary to common views, war among Greek poleis was endemic but not permanent, and it lost much of its existential threat once the polis system was in place and somewhat balanced roughly by the late seventh century. I do not intend to minimize the seriousness of the wars fought in fairly regular intervals between Hellenic poleis.

But the impact of such wars seems to have decreased. This explains why later tradition remembered so few destructions and enslavements of cities in the Archaic period. What made this necessary, I suggest, was less the war with Messenia itself than the helotization of the defeated, the existential threat they continually posed to the Spartiate community, and the fact that henceforth the Spartiate hoplites assumed permanent military responsibility for the security of their polis. In poleis that were less permanently threatened the military factor might have had less of an impact.

Morris proposes as a cause a major economic change, visible in large areas of the Greek world in the late sixth and early fifth centuries. The process I am interested in began in Athens and other places in the late seventh century. It probably was a difficult process and could only be realized under the pressure of profound changes in society or major threats to it. If, with few exceptions, not danger from the outside, the decisive factor perhaps was danger from within the polis: infighting among elite families, their abuse of social and economic power, and severe social conflicts posed existential threats to the polis as well.

The formalization of institutions, the enactment of written law and the appointment of mediators and legislators with extraordinary power served as means, supported by the entire polis, to overcome such crises. As such, it was essentially welcomed and supported by elite and non-elite citizens alike, each for their own good reasons. The land-owning farmers from the very beginning formed an integral element, both militarily and politically, in the evolving polis. Owing to this triple role of landowners, soldiers and assembly-men, they naturally became the essential part of the citizen body.

Despite such foundations of equality in the early Greek polis, economic and social differentiation continued and resulted in elite domination and abuse of power. Zweihundert Jahre Homer-Forschung, —15, and in Fisher and van Wees eds Archaic Greece, with more bibliography on supporters and opponents of this view. The Ancient Greek City-State, 41— Restrictions of space force me to be very brief.

More detailed discussions of the many complex issues involved will be presented elsewhere. Cartledge, in Settis [ed. Nilsson, Klio 22 , Bryant, Sociological Review 38 , — Detienne, in Vernant ed. Cartledge, JHS 97 , 11— Hanson, in Hanson ed. Hoplites, 63— Snodgrass, DHA 19 , 47—61; cf. Salmon, JHS 97 , 84— Booty: see M. Nowag, op. Jackson, in Rich and Shipley, op.

Rihll, ibid. See generally Snodgrass, Archaic Greece, and in Hansen, op. Snodgrass, JHS 85 , ; Starr, op. Gehrke, in Colloquium…A. Heuss, 49— Donlan and Foxhall, pp. Rhodes, Commentary on the Aristotelian Athenaion Politeia, Whitehead, CQ 31 , —6. In favour of the socio-economic interpretation see Foxhall, p. Gschnitzer, in Festschrift R. Muth, —63, and in Latacz, op. Solonian crisis: e. Gallant, BSA 77 , —24; A.


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Andrewes, C. Elite ideology in Homer: van Wees, op. This issue obviously needs further discussion. Meier, HZ , — Badian, — Demokratia, 35—6, and in Morris and Raaflaub eds Democracy At least in fifth-century Athens metics too served as hoplites: this poses the question whether and to what extent hoplite status ever was an exclusive citizen privilege.

Thrasybulus took the messenger into a field of corn, silently cut off the tallest ears and threw them away. It is unclear, however, whether the story originally had that repressive implication. Another tale in Herodotus, the escape of the infant Cypselus from his Bacchiad enemies, was plainly once part of a favourable account despite its hostile context;2 and the story of the heads of corn can also be given a favourable—or at least a not unfavourable—interpretation. To lop off the outstanding heads, even if it is a metaphor for executions, is not a negative act if the heads are unpopular: those of the Bacchiads certainly were.

A further possibility is that the story contains a metaphor for the establishment of equality. Aristotle uses it to illustrate the repression of a typical tyrant;3 but his lengthiest reference occurs in a context in which the point is different: the effect of lopping off the heads is the same as that of ostracism in a democracy—it ensures equality among the remaining citizens Pol.

However we interpret that story, tyranny played an important part in the political development of a number of poleis. But at least for Solon, it was already part of the problem, not the solution: he worked hard to avoid it. Tyranny was never identified in antiquity as a constructive phenomenon, but that is too simple a view.

Despite the discouraging judgement of Solon, I shall consider the extent to which tyranny made a positive contribution to political development. I shall not be concerned with why tyrannies arose, but with what they achieved when in power. It is difficult to identify constructive achievements. For all our sources, tyrant was a term of abuse. It was inevitable that tyrants should get a bad press; what defined them in later periods was their ejection after they had outlived their usefulness.

In the cities of Asia Minor, the Persians ruled through tyrants, who thus overstayed their welcome for additional reasons. The aspects of tyranny which were later emphasised give little ground for identifying constructive achievement. Various features are already found in Solon. He associated tyranny with violence: fr.

That is how Herodotus took the story of the lopping off of heads—and he emphasises and probably exaggerates the violence of both Cypselus and Periander 3. An association between tyranny and wealth is found in Archilochus fr. The assumption lies behind many passages;7 the absence of an explicit statement is not so much reason for doubt about the connection as evidence for such certainty that Aristotle took it for granted —and could assume his readers would too. Violence and the personal advantage and the sexual appetites of the tyrant are JOHN SALMON 33 equally prominent; the extra two centuries of experience Aristotle could draw on enabled him to add numerous methods and examples of repression and self-indulgence.

It is not entirely clear that they were known as tyrants to their contemporaries—even to their enemies among them. One of the oracles preserved by Herodotus in his story of Cypselus addresses him as basileus 5. The same tide was presumably used by Pheidon, since he was a king of the traditional kind Arist. For Archilochus, the type of the tyrant was the Lydian Gyges fr. I do not wish to deny that contemporaries called Cypselus, the early Orthagorids and others tyrants, though I know of nothing to demonstrate that they did; but even if they did, the case of Pittacus shows how misleading the term could be.

He was a tyrant to his enemy Alcaeus fr. Aristotle, however, preferred the title of aisymnetes, precisely because he recognised that Pittacus was no tyrant according to the definition he knew. We can conclude nothing from a name, especially one which acquired its definition later, and which in any case was not necessarily applied by contemporaries to the reality.

The early tyrants must be assessed for what they did, not for what they were later called. There are persistent indications, even in the later sources, of a favourable view of early tyrants which the standard view could not eradicate. Herodotus preserved stories about Cypselus—not to mention other tyrants—which sit very ill with his own hostile attitude. Early tyrants were often, in his view, demagogues Pol. That cannot imply anything like what it meant in fifth-century Athens; but it depends on a tradition that they relied to some extent on popular that is, to put it at its broadest, non-elite support.

Aristotle was plainly embarrassed by the implications of that tradition.


In his section on how to preserve tyranny, he begins with an account of how to do so by repressive measures; but suggests that another method is to pretend not to be a tyrant at all, but a popular ruler. That further emphasises that tyrants were often popular; Aristotle could only reconcile the fact with his theory by suggesting that they were so by pretence. It is most unlikely that favourable stories about tyrants were invented. Aristotle at least half recognised one of the most important constructive achievements of the tyrants: they acted as champions of the people against the rich plousioi ; and they were trusted by the people because they attacked the gnorimoi Pol.

Tyrants took a step without which development was impossible—they removed aristocracies from power. Different poleis found different means to curb aristocrats, from the rhetra in Sparta and the legislation of Dracon and Solon in Athens to Pheidon of Argos who reversed the normal trend of his day by exploiting his position as hereditary king to establish a tyranny, presumably at the expense of Argive aristocrats. Tyrants provided the least constructive, though sometimes the most complete, even drastic, solution to the problem of aristocratic privilege: aristocrats were under threat not just of restriction, but of elimination.

No doubt that is one reason why Solon associated tyranny with violence. Solutions attempted elsewhere, based like those of Solon himself on institutions, were potentially more constructive. None the less, the mere establishment of a tyranny was at least an enabling act: even a regime of the fourth-century text-book tyrant type if there had been any in the seventh century would have made an advance merely by removing aristocracies from power and maintaining control itself for a decade or two.

The precise significance of the change, however, depended on circumstances in each city. At Corinth the change was abrupt: Cypselus rested his claims in part on his Bacchiad origins, but many, perhaps most, Bacchiads suffered exile or worse. That may have been necessary precisely because of the unusually narrow nature of the Bacchiad regime. There is no sign of longlasting effects on Argive institutions—though since classical Argos retained a basileus Meiggs and Lewis At Sicyon, it may be significant that the changes upon which the sources concentrate were established by Cleisthenes: his predecessors perhaps found extensive change unnecessary.

Despite the standard later view that tyrants were outside the law, they may often, on the contrary, have been at least partly responsible for the establishment of the rule of law. Stories are preserved about some of the tyrants which suggest that they did exactly that. The tyrant established the dikastai kata demous Ath. When Peisistratus came to power, there was an already existing pattern of written law, which he followed —but also developed.

In other cities, tyrants may well have originated laws themselves. General considerations make that probable enough: tyrants represent a similar stage in the history of their cities to that which Athens reached at the time of Dracon and Solon; they legislated for Athens, so it was appropriate for tyrants to legislate elsewhere. That is never asserted by our sources, but we should not expect it to be: tyranny was later taken to be the antithesis of law.

None the less, a good case can be made despite the unsatisfactory state of the evidence. Even Pheidon in Argos, who was perhaps the least typical of the tyrants and the least likely to establish lasting institutions since he already enjoyed the traditional kingship, introduced the measures named after him which were used centuries later Her.

We cannot tell the purpose of his arrangements, but to establish weights and measures is an act of definition close to the establishment of norms of conduct in laws: law, indeed, is needed to define the measures and require their use. It is significant that the definitions were presumably intended to protect consumers: that was the purpose of metrologoi and the like later, and it is difficult to see how such a definition could have benefited the elite.

Pittacus at Lesbos was called a tyrant by his contemporary enemy Alcaeus, and Aristotle gives him as one example of an aisymnetes, an office which he defines as that of an elective tyrant; but he was certainly responsible for establishing laws, including the notion that any given punishment for a crime was to be greater if the offender was drunk when committing the act Pol. More generally, the Delphic oracle in favour of Cypselus suggested that he would dikaiosei de Korinthon Her.

That does not necessarily imply that he established laws, but in the broadest terms almost any means by which the tyrant might have brought dike to the city would have involved some regularisation of its system of justice. There are many details which give reason to think that the tyrants introduced legislation which lasted. The future pattern was so heavily based on the tribes that a proverb arose about Corinthian institutions: panta okto, eight of everything.

It is impossible to be sure exactly what the purpose of the new tribes was, but almost any view would have interesting implications for the selfperception of Corinthians: the new arrangements were locally based, and may have been designed as a conscious change from the hereditary principle. They defined the Corinthian citizen body, and that may indeed have been their main purpose.

They may also have defined privileged groups within it. In an important sense, the details do not matter: such a conscious act of definition must have greatly increased the awareness of Corinthians of their identity as citizens, though it naturally still allows for a whole range of hierarchically distinct identities. Other details suggest that Periander was responsible for sumptuary legislation; that is probably the origin of the story in Herodotus 5. He restricted the ownership of slaves, presumably among the elite and not among ordinary Corinthians. An obscure council is said to have ensured that expenditure by individuals did not exceed their income, and a law with precisely that effect is recorded for fourth-century Corinth.

Similarly, the tribal pattern established by Cleisthenes, whatever its purpose, was retained after the fall of the regime, just like that at Corinth, though it did not last as long cf. We have no other evidence; but it is remarkable that we have even that, and it is entirely plausible to suggest that the tyrants, or at least some of them, may have performed similar functions to other Archaic lawgivers.

It was the fact that they were tyrants which was remembered, and therefore reached our sources; that edged out their longer-lasting achievements. It has been suggested, especially in the case of Athens, that tyrants encouraged centralisation: since political life centred on the tyrant, who lived in the central place, the tyranny encouraged all citizens to look towards that central place, and they continued to do so after the fall of the regime.

As a general principle, that seems to me doubtful: if the centralising tendency depended on the tyrant, then it lost momentum after his expulsion or death. If, however, the tyrant encouraged the use of central institutions,21 then his encouragement would bear fruit later; that happened in Athens under Peisistratus with the council of four hundred and the assembly, as Cleisthenes in the end recognised to his advantage.

A comparable pattern can be suggested for Corinth: the probouloi, who along with the council were closely associated with the tribal system, were a central institution in Corinthian affairs for centuries after the JOHN SALMON 35 tyranny. Tyrants were often also responsible for a quite different kind of centralising tendency—an enormous improvement in the provision of public amenities, usually but not always in the central place. This was an aspect of tyrant regimes which Aristotle noted: he recorded the anathemata of the Cypselids, the pyramids in Egypt, the Olympieion built by the sons of Peisistratus and the works of Polycrates, as examples of schemes designed to keep subjects at work—and, strangely, poor.

Perhaps he thought, most improbably, that work on the schemes was not paid Pol. There is some controversy over the chronology of the earliest monumental Corinthian temples, at Corinth itself and at Isthmia, but in my view they are best attributed to Cypselus. Equally, although the archaeology is not clear about the date of what seems to have been the largest temple ever built in the Peloponnese, it is best given to Periander. Later Corinthian regimes were mean by comparison: they replaced buildings as they burnt down which happened with alarming frequency: the temples of both Apollo at Corinth and Poseidon at Isthmia were constructed for this reason ; in neither case was the new building spectacular for its day.

Cypselus fortified the city—an enormous undertaking, given the exceptionally difficult defensive problems and the hopelessly exposed position; and Periander both excavated an artificial harbour at Lechaeum and constructed the diolkos for the transport of vessels across the Isthmus. In Athens, Thucydides remarked on the activity of the tyrants in embellishing the city. Utilitarian projects were also provided, as at Corinth: Thucydides remarked on the fountain of Enneakrounos 2.

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