<<<
>>>

The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 20

58. As for the Hellenic race, it has used ever the same language, as I clearly perceive, since it first took its rise; but since the time when it parted off feeble at first from the Pelasgian race, setting forth from a small beginning it has increased to that great number of races which we see, 62 and chiefly because many Barbarian races have been added to it besides. Moreover it is true, as I think, 6201 of the Pelasgian race also, 63 that so far as it remained Barbarian it never made any great increase.

59. Of these races then Croesus was informed that the Athenian was held subject and torn with faction by Peisistratos 64 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 65 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, 66 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 67 men chosen from the dwellers in the city who became not indeed the spear-men 68 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, 69 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. 70 In the deme of Paiania there was a woman whose name was Phya, in height four cubits all but three fingers, 71 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, 72 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.


<<<
>>>