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The Struggle between Isagoras and Cleisthenes

In the ensuing vacuum of power at Athens after the expulsion of the tyrant Hippias, the leading member of the aristocratic Alcmaeonid family, a man named Cleisthenes, sought support among the masses by promising dramatic democratic reforms. The promise of such reforms seems to have been a response to the success of Cleisthenes' bitterest rival, Isagoras, an aristocrat from a different family, in becoming archon in 508 B.C. Cleisthenes had apparently despaired of winning political success other than by appealing to the non-aristocratic masses at Athens. When Isagoras tried to block Cleisthenes' reforms1 by calling in the Spartans again, the Athenian people united to force Isagoras and his Laconian allies out2. The ensuing conflict between Athens and Sparta ended quickly but sowed the seeds of mutual distrust between the two city-states.

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