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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

I. THE LANDS OF THE WEST AND THE RISE OF GREECE TO ABOUT 500 B.C.

The Authentic Greek New Testament
The Authentic Greek New Testament


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Page 24

TYRANNY OF PISISTRATUS, 560-527 B.C.

Solon's reforms satisfied neither the nobility nor the commons. The two classes continued their rivalry until the disorder of the times enabled an ambitious politician to gain supreme power as a tyrant. He was Solon's own nephew, a noble named Pisistratus. The tyrant ruled with moderation and did much to develop the Athenian city-state. He fostered agriculture by dividing the lands of banished nobles among the peasants. His alliances with neighboring cities encouraged the rising commerce of Athens. The city itself was adorned with handsome buildings by architects and sculptors whom Pisistratus invited to his court from all parts of Greece.

REFORMS OF CLISTHENES, 508-507 B.C.

Pisistratus was succeeded by his two sons, but the Athenians did not take kindly to their rule. Before long the tyranny came to an end. The Athenians now found a leader in a noble named Clisthenes, who proved to be an able statesman. He carried still further the democratic movement begun by Draco and Solon. One of his reforms extended Athenian citizenship to many foreigners and emancipated slaves ("freedmen") then living in Attica. This liberal measure swelled the number of citizens and helped to make the Athenians a more progressive people. Clisthenes, it is said, also established the curious arrangement known as ostracism. Every year, if necessary, the citizens were to meet in assembly and to vote against any persons whom they thought dangerous to the state. If as many as six thousand votes were cast, the man who received the highest number of votes had to go into honorable exile for ten years. [25] Though ostracism was intended as a precaution against tyrants, before long it came to be used to remove unpopular politicians.

[25] The name of an individual voted against was written on a piece of pottery (Greek ostrakon), whence the term ostracism.

ATHENS A DEMOCRATIC STATE

There were still some steps to be taken before the rule of the people was completely secured at Athens. But, in the main, the Athenians by 500 B.C. had established a truly democratic government, the first in the history of the world. The hour was now rapidly approaching when this young and vigorous democracy was to show forth its worth before the eyes of all Greece.

 

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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