), the son of Melanthus, and king of Athens, where he reigned, according to tradition, some time after the conquest of the Peloponnesus by the Dorians, about B. C. 1068. Once when the Dorians invaded Attica from Peloponnesus, they were told by an oracle, that they should be victorious if the life of the Attic king was spared. The Dorians accordingly took the greatest precautions not to kill the king.
But when Codrus was informed of the oracle, he resolved to sacrifice himself, and thus to deliver his country.
In the disguise of a common man, he entered the camp of the enemy.
There he began quarrelling with the soldiers, and was slain in the struggle. When the Dorians discovered the death of the Attic king, they abstained from further hostilities, and returned home. Tradition adds, that as no one was thought worthy to succeed such a high-minded and patriotic king, the kingly dignity was abolished, and a responsible archon for life was appointed instead.
In our accounts of this transaction there are points which justify the belief, that when, after the death of Codrus, quarrels arose among his sons about the succession, the eupatrids availed themselves of the opportunity for stripping the chief magistrate of as much of his power as they could, and that they succeeded in altogether abolishing the kingly dignity, for which that of a responsible archon was instituted. Medon accordingly succeeded his father as archon, and his brothers emigrated to Asia Minor, where they founded several of the Ionian colonies. (Hdt. 5.76
; Lycurg. c. Leocr.
20; Vell. 1.2
; Justin, 2.6
, &c.; Paus. 4.5.4
; Strab. xiv. p.633