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[1315b] [1] that it is necessary to appear to the subjects to be not a tyrannical ruler but a steward and a royal governor, and not an appropriator of wealth but a trustee, and to pursue the moderate things of life and not its extravagances, and also to make the notables one's comrades and the many one's followers. For the result of these methods must be that not only the tyrant's rule will be more honorable and more enviable because he will rule nobler subjects and not men that have been humiliated, and will not be continually hated and feared, but also that his rule will endure longer, and moreover that he himself in his personal character will be nobly disposed towards virtue, or at all events half-virtuous, and not base but only half-base.

Nevertheless oligarchy and tyranny1 are less lasting than any of the constitutional governments. For the longest-lived was the tyranny at Sicyon, that of the sons2 of Orthagoras and of Orthagoras himself, and this lasted a hundred years.3 The cause of this was that they treated their subjects moderately and in many matters were subservient to the laws, and Cleisthenes because he was a warlike man was not easily despised, and in most things they kept the lead of the people by looking after their interests. At all events it is said that Cleisthenes placed a wreath on the judge who awarded the victory away from him, and some say that the statue [20] of a seated figure in the market-place is a statue of the man who gave this judgement. And they say that Pisistratus4 also once submitted to a summons for trial before the Areopagus. And the second longest is the tyranny at Corinth, that of the Cypselids,5 for even this lasted seventy-three and a half years, as Cypselus was tyrant for thirty years, Periander for forty-four,6 and Psammetichus son of Gordias for three years. And the reasons for the permanence of this tyranny also are the same: Cypselus was a leader of the people and continuously throughout his period of office dispensed with a bodyguard; and although Periander became tyrannical, yet he was warlike. The third longest tyranny is that of the Pisistratidae at Athens, but it was not continuous; for while Pisistratus7 was tyrant he twice fled into exile, so that in a period of thirty-three years he was tyrant for seventeen years out of the total, and his sons for eighteen years, so that the whole duration of their rule was thirty-five years. Among the remaining tyrannies is the one connected with Hiero and Gelo8 at Syracuse, but even this did not last many years, but only eighteen in all, for Gelo after being tyrant for seven years ended his life in the eighth, and Hiero ruled ten years, but Thrasybulus was expelled after ten months. And the usual tyrannies have all of them been of quite short duration.

The causes therefore of the destruction of constitutional governments and of monarchies and those again of their preservation have almost all of them been discussed.

1 Oligarchy is not mentioned in what follows, and the context deals with the forms of monarchy. Tyranny is included among the constitutions at 1312a 40, but not elsewhere in this Book. Some editors bracket ll. 19-29 as spurious or out of place.

2 i.e. descendants; Cleisthenes was his grandson.

3 From 670 B.C.

4 See 1305a 23 n.

5 From 655 B.C.

6 The Greek may be corrected to ‘forty and a half’ to give the stated total.

7 See 1305a 23 n.

8 See 1312b 12 n.

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  • Commentary references to this page (3):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 3.50-3
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.92E
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 7.155
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