Cleisthenes and Democracy


The Reforms of Cleisthenes - 508 BCE

Isagoras backed by Cleomenes against Cleisthenes the Alcmaionid

Cleisthenes 'takes the people into his party'

Cleomenes intervenes and is expelled from Acropolis

Cleisthenes reforms the political organization of Athens

deme affiliation replaces aristocratic clan allegiance


oikos - household

deme – township, borough

genos – family, clan

trittys – "third", county

phratry – "brotherhood", family

phyle - tribe


ten tribes replace the traditional four

- composed of demes from different areas of Attica

- trittyes of coast, plains, and city

Boule (Council) of 500 - prytanies of 50 from each tribe

Ecclesia of all the citizens

Heliaia – the people’s courts

Graphe Paranomon and Eisangelia

Ostracism in Athens


Athens and Persia  - The Ionian Revolt

Aristagoras of Miletus - the Naxos Debacle - 499

Athenians assist in the burning of Sardis - 498

Persians crush revolt - Battle of Lade, Sack of Miletus - 494

Phrynichus and the Sack of Miletus - 493

Mardonius' expedition wrecked at Athos - 492


Sparta and Athenian politics

King Cleomenes in Conflict with King Demaratus

Athens and Isagoras – Boeotia, Euboea, and Eleusis

Aegina Crisis – 491

Cleomenes at Argos – Battle of Sepeia

Tales about Demaratus

The Expulsion of Demaratus and Rise of King Leotychides

The Fall of Leotychides and Cleomenes





Croesus king in Lydia


Cyrus becomes king of Persia


Cyrus conquers Media


Cyrus conquers Lydia


Pisistratus' final tyranny at Athens


Cyrus conquers Babylon


Death of Cyrus, accession of Cambyses


Persian conquest of Egypt


Darius takes power in Persia


Cleomenes King of Sparta


Harmodios and Aristogeiton assassinate Hipparchos


Darius conquers Thrace


Expulsion of the Pisistratids from Athens


Isagoras Archon at Athens; reforms of Cleisthenes


Board of Ten Generals instituted at Athens


Ionian revolt begins


Sardis burned by Ionians; Cleomenes wins Battle of Sepeia


Revolt quelled on Cyprus


Battle of Lade; Sack of Miletus


Themistokles archon at Athens; Phrynichus - Sack of Miletus


Mardonius' expedition wrecked in storm off Athos


Persians demand earth and water; Aeginetan crisis


Death of Cleomenes


Ostracisms and choice of archons by lot instituted at Athens


Aristophanes Thesmophoriazeusai (Women at the Thesmophoria) 295-383


Woman Herald: [295] Silence! Silence! Pray to the Thesmophorae, Demeter and Cora; pray to Plutus, Calligenia, Curotrophus, [300] the Earth, Hermes and the Graces, that all may happen for the best at this gathering, both for the greatest advantage of Athens [305] and for our own personal happiness! May the award be given her who, by both deeds and words, has most deserved it from the Athenian people and from the women! [310] Address these prayers to heaven and demand happiness for yourselves. Io Paean! Io Paean! Let us rejoice!


Chorus (singing): May the gods deign to accept our vows and our prayers! [315] Oh! almighty Zeus, and thou, god with the golden lyre, who reignest on sacred Delos, and thou, oh, invincible virgin, Pallas, with the eyes of azure and the spear of gold, who protectest our illustrious city, [320] and thou, the daughter of the beautiful Leto, queen of the forests, who art adored under many names, hasten hither at my call. Come, thou mighty Poseidon, king of the Ocean, leave thy stormy whirlpools of Nereus; [325] come, goddesses of the seas, come, ye nymphs, who wander on the mountains. Let us unite our voices to the sounds of the golden lyre, [330] and may wisdom preside at the gathering of the noble matrons of Athens.


Woman Herald: Address your prayers to the gods and goddesses of Olympus, of Delphi, Delos and all other places; [335] if there be a man who is plotting against the womenfolk or who, to injure them, is proposing peace to Euripides and the Medes, or who aspires to usurping the tyranny, plots the return of a tyrant, or [340] unmasks a supposititious child; or if there be a slave who, a confidential party to a wife's intrigues, reveals them secretly to her husband, or who, entrusted with a message, does not deliver the same faithfully; if there be a lover who fulfils naught of what he has promised a woman, whom he has abused on the strength of his lies; [345] if there be an old woman who seduces the lover of a maiden by dint of her presents and treacherously receives him in her house; if there be a host or hostess who sells false measure, pray the gods that they will overwhelm them with their wrath, [350] both them and their families, and that they may reserve all their favours for you.


Chorus (singing): Let us ask the fulfillment of these wishes both for the city and for the people, [355] and may the wisest of us cause her opinion to be accepted. But woe to those women who break their oaths, [360] who speculate on the public misfortune, who seek to alter the laws and the decrees, who reveal our secrets to the foe [365] and admit the Medes into our territory so that they may devastate it! I declare them both impious and criminal. Oh! almighty Zeus! see to it that [370] the gods protect us, albeit we are but women!


Woman Herald: Hearken, all of you! this is the decree passed by the Senate of the Women under the presidency of Timoclea and at the suggestion of Sostrate; [375] it is signed by Lysilla, the secretary: “There will be a gathering of the people on the morning of the third day of the Thesmophoria, which is a day of rest for us; the principal business there shall be the punishment that it is meet to inflict upon Euripides for the insults with which he has loaded us.” Now who asks to speak?


First Woman: [380] I do.


Woman Herald: First put on this garland, and then speak.


Leader of the Chorus:  Silence! let all be quiet! Pay attention! for here she is spitting as orators generally do before they begin; no doubt she has much to say.


Buckley ch. 9

Herodotus Books VI-IX

Fornara 55

Plutarch – Themistocles and Aristides


Review Herodotus' account of the rulers of the Persian empire - Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius.  How does he shape the story of each ruler's career?


What are the causes of the Ionian revolt in Herodotus' account?  What are his sources and how may we assess their value?


In Herodotus' account of Marathon, the details included provide insight into Greek culture and values.  What do the facts that Herodotus chose to relate about Miltiades reveal about the importance of participation in the Olympian and other Panhellenic games as a factor in Greek politics?  What role did visions and dreams play in Herodotus' account? What cracks in Athenian unity intruded almost immmediately into the picture of heroic action?


How does Herodotus' account of Xerxes decision to invade compare with his earlier account of Darius’s decision to send out the first expeditions against Greece?  Note especially the role of Artabanos, who plays the part of a type-character frequently found in Herodotus, the Tragic Warner.  How might recognition of such type-characters be used in the assessment of the historicity of Herodotus' account?


Compare the accounts in Herodotus and Fornara 55 of the evacuation of Athens and the role of Themistokles.  Who is left behind on the Acropolis?  When do the Athenians abandon the city?


Compare the accounts of the battle of Salamis by Aeschylus and Herodotus. What has Aeschylus omitted, and how trustworthy is a drama as a source?  The passage about Artemisia provides evidence about the historian’s treatment of women; what may have been his motivation in focusing on her actions?

New Organization after the Reforms of Cleisthenes




City Trittyes

Plains Trittyes

Coast Trittyes

1. Erectheis




2. Aigeis



Halai Araphenides

3. Pandionis




4. Leontis




5. Akamantis




6. Oineis




7. Kekropis




8. Hippothontis




9. Aiantis




10. Antiochis







Four Former Tribes in Attica: Geleontes, Hopletes, Argadeis, Aigikoreis


from Aeschylus, Persians (330-470) – contrast Herodotus VIII. 56-103


Atossa:   Alas! The words I hear put the very crown upon our woes; a disgrace to the Persians and cause for shrill lament. But retrace your tale and tell me this clearly:  [335] how great was the number of the Greek ships which gave them confidence enough to go into battle with their armed prows against the Persian army?

Messenger:   If numbers had been the only factor, be assured that the barbarians would have gained the victory with their fleet. For the whole number of the ships of Hellas  amounted to ten times thirty, [340] and, in addition to these, there was a chosen squadron of ten. But Xerxes, this I know, had under his command a thousand,  while those excelling in speed were twice a hundred, and seven more. This is the total of their respective numbers. Do you think that we were simply outnumbered  in this contest? [345] No, it was some divine power that tipped the scale of fortune with unequal weight and thus destroyed our host. The gods preserve the city of  the goddess Pallas.

Atossa:   Is then the city of Athens not yet despoiled?

Messenger:   No, while her men still live, her ramparts are impregnable.  [350]

Atossa:  But the beginning of the encounter of the fleets, tell me about it. Who began the onset? Was it the Hellenes? Or my son, exulting in the multitude of his ships?

Messenger:  My Queen, some destructive power or evil spirit, appearing from somewhere or other, caused the beginning of our utter rout. [355] A Hellene, from the Athenian  host, came to your son Xerxes and told this tale: that, when the gloom of black night should set in, the Hellenes would not remain in place, but, springing upon the  rowing benches of their ships, would seek, some here, some there, [360] to preserve their lives by stealthy flight. But Xerxes, when he heard this, comprehending  neither the cleverness of the Greek nor that the gods grudged him success, straightway gave all his captains orders to this effect--that, when the sun had ceased to  illumine the earth with his beams, [365] and darkness had covered the region of the sky, they should bring up in a tight group the main body of the fleet, disposed  in triple line, to bar the exits and the sounding straits, and station other ships in a circle around the island of Ajax. He gave them a warning too that, should the  Hellenes escape an evil doom, [370] finding by stealth some means of flight for their fleet, it had been decreed that every captain should lose his head. These  commands he made with complete confidence of heart, since he knew not the issue intended by the gods. Our crews then, with no lack of order but with an  obedient spirit, [375] prepared their evening meal, while each sailor looped his oar about its thole-pin so that it fitted well. But when the light of the sun had faded  and night drew on, each master of an oar and each man versed in arms went on board. [380] The long galleys cheered each other, line by line; and they held their  course as each captain had been ordered, and all through the night the commanders of the fleet kept their whole force cruising to and fro across the strait. Night  began to wane, [385] yet the fleet of the Hellenes in no way attempted to put forth by stealth. When, however, radiant Day with her white horses shone over all the  land, a loud cheer like a song of triumph first rang out from the Hellenes, and, at the same instant, [390] clear from the island crags, an echo returned an answering  cry. Terror fell on all the barbarians, balked of their purpose; for then the Hellenes chanted their solemn paean, not as in flight, but as men rushing to the onset with  the courage of gallant hearts.

[395] The trumpet with its blast set all their side afire, and instantly, at the word of command, with the even stroke of foaming oars they struck the briny deep.  Swiftly they all came clear into view. Their right wing, well marshalled, [400] led on in orderly advance, next their whole army pressed on against us, and at the  same time a loud shout met our ears: "On, you men of Hellas! Free your native land. Free your children, your wives, the temples of your fathers' gods, [405] and  the tombs of your ancestors. Now you are fighting for all you have." Then from our side arose in response the mingled clamor of Persian speech, and straightaway  the ships dashed together their bronze prows. It was a ship of Hellas [410] that began the charge and chopped off in its entirety the curved stern of a Phoenician  boat. Each captain drove his ship straight against some other ship. At first the stream of the Persian army held its own. When, however, the mass of our ships had  been crowded in the narrows, and none could render another aid, [415] and each crashed its bronze prow against each of its own line, they splintered their whole  bank of oars. Then the Hellenic galleys, not heedless of their chance, hemmed them in and battered them on every side. The hulls of our vessels rolled over, and the  sea was hidden from our sight, [420] strewn as it was with wrecks and slaughtered men. The shores and reefs were crowded with our dead, and every ship that  formed a part of the barbarian fleet plied its oars in disorderly flight. But, as if our men were tuna or some haul of fish, [425] the foe kept striking and hacking them  with broken oars and fragments of wrecked ships. Groans and shrieks together filled the open sea until the face of black night hid the scene. But as for the the full  extent of our disasters, this, even if I had ten days in succession to do so, I could not describe to you. [430] However, you can be sure that so great a multitude of  men never perished in a single day.

Atossa:   Alas! In truth a vast sea of troubles has burst upon the Persians and the entire barbarian race. [435]

Messenger:  Be assured of this, not even half of the disaster has as yet been told. A calamity so dreadful as to outweigh these ills twice over befell them.

Atossa:   But what greater misfortune than this could have befallen them? Speak! What is this other disaster you say [440] came upon our force, sinking the scale to greater  weight of ill?

Messenger:   Those Persians who were in their life's prime, bravest in spirit, pre-eminent for noble birth, and always among the foremost in loyalty to the King himself-- these  have fallen ignobly by a most inglorious doom.  [445]

Atossa:  Ah, I am truly reduced to misery through this disaster! By what fate was it that you say they met their end?

Messenger:   There is an island lying before Salamis, a small one and dangerous anchorage for ships; its sea-washed shore is the haunt of Pan, who loves the dance.  [450] There Xerxes dispatched these, his choicest troops, in order that when the Hellenic enemy, wrecked from their ships, should flee in search of safety to the  island, they might slaughter their force, an easy prey, and rescue their comrades from the straits of the sea. Grievously did he misjudge the issue. For when some  god [455] had given the glory to the Hellenes in the battle on the sea, on that same day, fencing their bodies in armor of bronze, they leapt from their ships and  encircled the whole island, so that our men were at a loss which way to turn. Often they were struck by stones slung from their hands, [460] and arrows sped from  the bow-string kept falling upon them and doing them harm. At last the Hellenes, charging with one shout, struck them and hacked to pieces the limbs of the poor  wretches, until they had utterly quenched the life of all. [465] Xerxes groaned aloud when he beheld the extent of the disaster, for he occupied a seat commanding a  clear view of the entire army--a lofty headland by the open sea. Tearing his robes and uttering a loud cry, he straightaway gave orders to his force on land [470] and  dismissed them in disorderly flight. This, besides the one already told, is the disaster you must bewail.