10-30-0605 BCE

Peisistratos

PEISISTRATUS, Athenian tyrant, born (d: 528 BCE); A  Greek statesman who became the Tyrant of Athens following a popular coup and ruled in 561 BC, 559 BC-556 BC and 545 BC-528 BC. Peisistratos was the son of a philosopher and teacher called Hippocrates, and was named for the Peisistratos in the Odyssey. He lowered taxes and increased Athens’ economy.

According to Plutarch he was the eromenos (Greek for “boyfriend”) of the Athenian lawgiver Solon. He assisted Solon in his endeavors, and fought bravely in the conquest of Salamis. When Solon left Athens, Peisistratos became leader of the party of the Highlands (poor, rural people) in 565 BC.

Peisistratos used a clever scheme, calling for bodyguards after he pretended to be attacked. Those bodyguards were composed of the people of the Highlands who had entered Athens. In 561 BC he seized the Acropolis with this group of bodyguards, becoming turannos (tyrant). His rule did not last – he was driven out by Lycurgis, Megacles and others from the party of the Coast within the year.

During his reign, many temples were built and he encouraged poets and artists by welcoming them into his court. According to a story first mentioned by the Latin author Cicero, Pisistratus ordered the writing down of the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, which had previously been transmitted orally.

Peisistratus’ eromenos was the youth Charmus, whom he guarded jealously. His son, Hippias, who coveted the boy, kept his distance until his turn to squeeze the Charmus came upon his father’s death.