1. Son of Aristonymus and tyrant of Sicyon.
He was descended from Orthagoras, who founded the dynasty about 100 years before his time, and succeeded his grandfather Myron in the tyranny, though probably not without some opposition. (Hdt. 6.126
; Aristot. Pol. 5.12
, ed Bekk.; Paus. 2.8
; Müller, Dor.
1.8.2.) In B. C. 595, he aided the Amphictyons in the sacred war against Cirrha, which ended, after ten years, in the destruction of the guilty city, and in which Solon too is said to have assisted with his counsel the avengers of the god. (Paus. 10.37
; Aesch. c. Ctes.
§ 107, &c. ; Clinton, F. H.
sub anno, 595.) We find Cieisthenes also engaged in war with Argos, his enmity to which is said by Herodotus to have been so great, that he prohibited the recitation at Sicyon of Homer's poems, because Argos was celebrated in them, and restored to the worship of Dionysus what the historian calls, by a prolepsis, the tragic choruses in which Adrastus, the Argive hero, was commemorated. (Hdt. 5.67
; see Nitzsch, Meletem.
i. p. 153, &c.) Müller (l.c.
) connects this hostility of Cleisthenes towards Argos, the chief Dorian city of the district, with his systematic endeavour to depress and dishonour the Dorian tribes at Sicyon.
The old names of these he altered, calling them by new ones derived from the sow, the ass, and the pig (Ὑᾶται
), while to his own tribe he gave the title of Ἀρχέλαοι
(lords of the people).
The explanation of his motive for this given by Müller (Dor.
3.4.3) seems even less satisfactory than the one of Herodotus which he sets aside; and the historian's statement, that Cleisthenes of Athens imitated his grandfather in his political changes, may justify the inference, that the measures adopted at Sicyon with respect to the tribes extended to more than a mere alteration of their names. (Hdt. 5.67
.) From Aristotle (Aristot. Pol. 5.12
) we learn, that Cleisthenes maintained his power partly through the respect inspired by his military exploits, and partly by the popular and moderate course which he adopted in his general government. His administration also appears to have been characterized by much magnificence, and Pausanias mentions a colonnade (στοὰ Κλεισθένειος
) which he built with the spoils taken in the sacred war. (Paus. 2.9
.) We have no means of ascertaining the exact date of the death of Cleisthenes, or the conclusion of his tyranny, but we know that it cannot be placed earlier than B. C. 582, in which year he won the victory in the chariot-race at the Pythian games. (See Clinton and Müller on the year.) His daughter Agarista, whom so many suitors sought, was given in marriage to Megacles the Alcmaeonid. [AGARISTA.]