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Fame, Money, and Power

The Rise of Peisistratos and "Democratic" Tyranny at Athens

B. M. Lavelle

Publication Year: 2005

The sixth century is a very contentious time; Fame, Money, and Power unambiguously advances our understanding of Peisistratos and archaic Athens. No one else has tackled so many of the difficult issues that Lavelle has taken on. --David Tandy, University of Tennessee "Well researched and engaging, [Fame, Money, and Power] painstakingly builds [its] case for how the various phases of Peisistratos's career developed." --Tony Podlecki, University of British Columbia The Athenian "golden age" occurred in the fifth century B.C.E. and was attributed to their great achievements in art, literature, science, and philosophy. However, the most important achievement of the time was the political movement from tyranny to democracy. Though tyranny is thought to be democracy's opposite and deadly enemy, that is not always the case. In Fame, Money, and Power, Brian Lavelle states that the perceived polarity between tyranny and democracy does not reflect the truth in this instance. The career of the tyrant Peisistratos resembles the careers and successes of early democratic soldier-politicians. As with any democratic political system, Peisistratos' governance depended upon the willingness of the Athenians who conceded governance to him. This book attempts to show how the rise of Peisistratos fits into an essentially democratic system already entrenched at Athens in the earlier sixth century B.C.E. Emerging from the apparent backwater of eastern Attika, Peisistratos led the Athenians to victory over their neighbors, the Megarians, in a long, drawn out war. That victory earned him great popularity from the Athenians and propelled him along the road to monarchy. Yet, political success at Athens, even as Solon implies in his poems, depended upon the enrichment of the Athenian d?mos, not just fame and popularity. Peisistratos tried and failed two times to "root" his tyranny, his failures owing to a lack of sufficient money with which to appease the demos. Exiled from Athens, he spent the next ten years amassing money to enrich the Athenians and power to overcome his enemies. He then sustained his rule by grasping the realities of Athenian politics. Peisistratos' tyrannies were partnerships with the d?mos, the first two of which failed. His final formula for success, securing more money than his opponents possessed and then more resources for enriching the d?mos, provided the model for future democratic politicians of Athens who wanted to obtain and keep power in fifth-century Athens.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. vii-viii

This book is the result of several years’ study of Peisistratid tyranny at Athens. It was prompted not by an interest in tyranny as much as by a desire to know more about the genesis of Athenian democracy. In a short time, it became clear that fifth-century controversies about the tyranny had warped the history of the period, distorting its record by revision, ...

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pp. ix-x

This book and its author owe much to many fine people. First of all I thank Dr.John Camp and Dr.Steven Diamant for their generous help at a very early stage of things and Ms.Margaret Beck for very kindly sharing with me her excellent, still unpublished study of the topography of Brauron/Philaïdai. Use of that impressive study was invaluable. ...


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I. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Peisistratos, the son of Hippokrates, and his sons dominated affairs at Athens from 546 to 510 B.C.E., a period that was obviously a crucial one in Athens’ development. Yet we know almost nothing about these important years. Most of what we have about the Peisistratids clusters at the beginning of Peisistratos’ tyrannies and at the end of Hippias’ rule. This could ...

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II. The Path to Fame: The Early Life and Career of Peisistratos

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pp. 17-65

Peisistratos was born ca. 600 B.C.E. His home was Philaïdai (figs. 2 and 3), very near the coast of eastern Attika at Brauron (fig.1). Presumably, he grew to adulthood in that region, training for war there from boyhood. Unlike most, however, Peisistratos became especially adept at warfare, debuting in Athenian history as strategos in the latest stages of the war with Megara. ...

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III. Money, Persuasion, and Alliance: The Early Tyrannies of Peisistratos

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pp. 66-115

Sometime after Nisaia, when Peisistratos had become renowned and popular among the Athenians for his effective leadership and successes in the Megarian war, he fixed his sights firmly on the tyranny. This will most likely have occurred between ca. 568–563 B.C.E., the range of dates probable for the campaign leading to Nisaia, and 561–60 B.C.E., the year of ...

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IV. The Tide of Wealth and Power: Peisistratos' Exile, Return, and "Rooting" of the Tyranny

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pp. 116-154

Herodotos’ very compressed sequencing of events in this passage is misleading. He makes it seem as if Peisistratos’ immediate recourse in the face of his ouster from the tyranny was to Eretria and that he did not move on from there but remained and took contributions from allies. Not only do we not hear of any stops before Eretria, we get no idea how the Etretrians ...

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V. Summary

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pp. 155-168

Nisaia was the pivotal moment in Peisistratos’ early career; Pallene established the tyranny for several decades. Success in the Megarian war earned Peisistratos popularity first among the fighters in the field and then more generally among the Athenians. A slight index of the potency of the victory and what it produced for Peisistratos is the fact that the memory of ...


Appendix A. The Site of the Attic Deme Phila

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pp. 171-179

Appendix B. The Environment of Eastern Attika in the Sixth Century B.C.E.

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pp. 180-190

Appendix C. Prosopography

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pp. 191-209

Appendix D. Peisistratos’ Chronology

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pp. 210-218

Appendix E. The Origins of the Herodotean Parties

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pp. 219-221

Appendix F. The Site of Rhaikelos

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pp. 222-227

Appendix G. Peisistratos and the Purification of Delos: Actions and Intentions

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pp. 228-230

Appendix H. Sophokles and Herodotos on the Foundations of Tyranny: Oedipous Tyrannos 540–42

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pp. 231-236


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pp. 237-334


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pp. 335-354


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pp. 355-370

E-ISBN-13: 9780472025817
E-ISBN-10: 0472025813
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472114245
Print-ISBN-10: 0472114247

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 10 B&W photographs, 1 map
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 613192828
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fame, Money, and Power

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Subject Headings

  • Pisistratus, 605?-528 or 7 B.C.
  • Dictators -- Greece -- Athens -- Biography.
  • Athens (Greece) -- History -- Age of Tyrants, 560-510 B.C.
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