The Rise of Tyranny in Ancient Greece

Topics: Ancient Greece, Tyrant, Archaic Greece Pages: 2 (523 words) Published: June 16, 2010
The Rise of Tyranny:

The Archaic period saw (800 – 500 B.C) the rise of the Tyrant as a result of the social, political and economic discontent of the polis and the Greek colonies. Initially the Tyrant “in the ancient Greek sense was a man who, without any hereditary or official right to rule, seized control of his city” and was viewed favourably amongst the Greeks. (Estensen –get booklet for foot note) The rise of the Tyrant was due to the widespread dissatisfaction that came from the oppressive aristocratic rule coupled with the results of colonisation and economic expansion. It was not until the tyrants became cruel and oppressive in their rule that the modern conations of the word were adopted by the Greeks, Herodotus captures the later formed opinion well in his histories when he states: “There is nothing in the whole world so unjust, nothing so bloody, as tyranny...” (Herodotus, The history, Book V, “92) Many Tyrants are accounted for during this period the most notable being Cypeslus, Cleisthenes of Sicyon and Pisistratus within the scopes of these Tyrants are the achievements of both themselves along with their predecessors and successors. The Archaic period saw the decline of aristocratic rule fuelling the rise of the tyrant, A. Andrews expresses it best “ The tyrants mark a turning point in the political development of Greece, the moment when an old order was breaking down and a new order was not yet established” (3 pg 6 reference for foot note.) The aristocratic rule had seen the control of all religious, military and political functions. As city- states grew, citizen became more political active and desired to have the laws written down. Some aristocrats acted on this demand creating lawgivers, like the Athenian Draco. However the severity of Draco’s law crated social, political and economic discontent as his successor Solon describes “All the common people were weighed down with the debts owed to a few rich men” (4 see sheet.) The rise of the...
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