The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Peisf Stratus – Peisistratus


52. referring to a time when both Hippias and Hipparclms were dead). [C. P. M.]

PEISF STRATUS (ne«nVrpaTos), the youngest son of Nestor and Anaxibia, was a friend of Telemachus, and accompanied him on his jour­ney from Pylos to Menelaus at Sparta. (Horn. Od. iii. 36, 48, xv. 46, &c. ; Herod, v. 65 ; Apollod. i. 9. § 9 ; Pans. iv. 1. § 3.) [L. S.]

PEISISTRATUS (rieicHcrrpaTos), the son. of Hippocrates, was so named after Peisistratus, the youngest son of Nestor, the family of Hippocrates being of Pylian origin, and tracing their descent to Neleus, the father of Nestor (Plerod. v. 65). It \vas generally believed that the future tyrant Peisistratus was descended from the Homeric Peisistratus, although Pausanias (ii. 18. § 8, 9), when speaking of the expulsion of the Neleidae by the Heracleids, says that he does not know what became of Peisistratus, the grandson of Nestor. The fact that Hippocrates named his son after the son of Nestor shows the belief of the family, and he appears not to have belonged to the other branches of the Neleidae settled in At­tica : but the real descent of an historical personage from any of these heroic families must always be very problematical. The separate mention of Melanthus and Codrus (Herod. I.e.) implies that he did not belong to that branch ; that he did not belong to the Alcmaeonidae is clear from the historical rela­tions between that family and Peisistratus ; and we nowhere hear that the latter was connected with the Paeonidae, the only other branch of the Neleidae who came to Attica. Hippocrates (pro­bably through some intermarriage or other) be­longed to the house of the Phila'idae (Plut. Sol. 10 ; Pseudo-Plat. Hipparcli. p. 288. b. It is through an oversight that Plutarch speaks of the deme of the Phila'idae, which did not then exist). Inter­marriages with the descendants of Melanthus would be sufficient to account for the claim which Peisi­stratus is represented as making (in the spurious letter in Diogenes Laertius, i. 53), to be con­sidered as a member of the family of Codrus, even if the statement that he did so deserves any credit. The mother of Peisistratus (whose name we do not know) was cousin german to the mother of Solon (Heracleides Ponticus ap. Plut. Sol. 1). There are no data for determining accurately the time when Peisistratus was born ; but the part which he is represented as taking in the military opera­tions and measures of Solon would not admit of its being later than B.C. 612, a date which is not inconsistent with the story of Chilon and Hippo­crates [hippocrates], for the former, who was ephor in b. c. 560, was already an old man in b. c. 572 (Diog. Laert. i. 68, 72).

Peisistratus grew up equally distinguished for personal beauty and for mental endowments. The relationship between him and Solon naturally drew them together, and a close friendship sprang up be­tween them, which, as was to be expected under such circumstances between Greeks, soon assumed an ero­tic character (Plut. Sol. L). On the occasion of the successful attempt made by Solon to induce the Athenians to renew their struggle with the Mega-rians for the possession of Salamis, Peisistratus greatly aided his kinsman by his eloquence. The decree prohibiting further attempts upon the island was repealed, and an expedition led against it by Solon, again assisted by his young relative, who distinguished himself by his military ability, and



captured Nisaea (Herod, i. 59 ; Plut. Solon. 8, 12. Justin. ii. 8). *•

After the legislation of Solon, the position of parties at Athens was well calculated to favour the ambitious designs of Peisistratus. The old con­tests of the rival parties of the Plain, the High­lands, and the Coast, had been checked for a time by the measures of Solon, but their rivalry had not been removed ; and when Solon, after the esta­blishment of his constitution, retired for a time from Athens, this rivalry broke out into open feud. The party of the Plain, comprising chiefly the landed proprietors, was headed by Lycurgus ; that of the Coast, consisting of the wealthier classes not belonging to the nobles, by Megacles, the son of Alcmaeon ; the party of the Highlands, which aimed at more of political freedom and equality than either of the two others, was that at the head of which Peisistratus placed himself, not because their wishes and feelings corresponded with his own, but because they seemed the most likely to be useful in the furtherance of his designs ; and indeed his lead of this faction seems to have been a mere pretext, to render it less obvious that he had in reality attached to himself a large party among the poorer class of citizens (Herod, i. 59. fjytipc rptrrijs ardffiv. <ri/AAe£as 5e crracric^Ta^ fcal r(S Xoyq tuv vTrepctKpicw irpdfrras ). These he secured by putting himself forward as the patron and bene­factor of the poor. With a species of munifi­cence, afterwards imitated by Cimon, he threw open his gardens to the use of the citizens indiscrimi­nately (Theopompus ap. Athen. xii. p. 532. e. &c.), and, according to some accounts (Eustath. ad JL xxiv. extr.), was always accompanied by two or three youths, with a purse of money to supply forthwith the wants of any needy citizen whom they fell in with. His military and oratorical (Cic. de Orat. iii. 34, Brut. 7. § 27, 10. § 41; Val. Max. viii. 9. ext. 1) abilities, and the undeniably good qualities which he possessed (Solon, according to Plut. Solon. 29, declared of him that, had it not been for his ambition, Athens had not a more ex­cellent citizen to show), backed by considerable powers of simulation, had led many of the better class of citizens, if not openly to become his parti­sans, at least to look upon him with no unfavour­able eye, and to regard his domination as a less evil than the state of faction and disturbance under which the constitution was then suffering. Solon, on his return, quickly saw through the designs of Peisistratus, who listened with respect to his advice, though he prosecuted his schemes none the less diligently. (According to Isocrates, Panath. p. 263, ed. Steph. one part of his procedure was to procure the banishment of a considerable number of influ­ential citizens who were likely to oppose his plans.) Solon next endeavoured to arouse the people, by speeches and poetical compositions (Plut. Solon. 30 ; Diog. Laert. i. 49, 50), to a sense of the danger to which they were exposed, but in vain. Some refused to share his suspicions, others favoured the designs of Peisistratus, others feared his powrer, or were indifferent. Even the senate, according to Diogenes Laertius (i. 49), were disposed to favour Peisistratus, and declared Solon to be mad. When Peisistratus found his plans sufficiently ripe for execution, he one day made his appearance in the agora with his mules and his own person exhibit­ing recent wounds, pretending that he had been nearly assassinated by his enemies as he was riding

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of