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Affairs were now under the authority of Hipparchus and Hippias, owing to their station and their ages, but the government was controlled by Hippias, who was the elder and was statesmanlike and wise by nature; whereas Hipparchus was fond of amusement and love-making, and had literary tastes: it was he who brought to Athens poets such as Anacreon and Simonides, and the others. [2] Thettalus was much younger, and bold and insolent in his mode of life, which proved to be the source of all their misfortunes. For he fell in love with Harmodius, and when his advances were continually unsuccessful he could not restrain his anger, but displayed it bitterly in various ways, and finally when Harmodius's sister was going to be a Basket-carrier1 in the procession at the Panathenaic Festival he prevented her by uttering some insult against Harmodius as being effeminate; and the consequent wrath of Harmodius let him and the Aristogeiton to enter on their plot with a number2 of accomplices. [3] At the Panathenaic Festival on the Acropolis they were already keeping a watch on Hippias (who happened to be receiving the procession, while Hipparchus was directing its start), when they saw one of their partners in the plot conversing in a friendly way with Hippias. They thought that he was giving information, and wishing to do something before their arrest they went down and took the initiative without waiting for their confederates, killing Hipparchus as he was arranging the procession by the Leocoreum.3 [4] This played havoc with the whole plot. Of the two of them Harmodius was at once dispatched by the spearmen, and Aristogeiton died later, having been taken into custody and tortured for a long time. Under the strain of the tortures he gave the names of a number of men that belonged by birth to families of distinction, and were friends of the tyrants, as confederates. For they were not able immediately to find any trace of the plot, but the current story that Hippias made the people in the procession fall out away from their arms and searched for those that retained their daggers is not true, for in those days they did not walk in the procession armed, but this custom was instituted later by the democracy. [5] According to the account of people of popular sympathies, Aristogeiton accused the tyrants' friends for the purpose of making his captors commit an impiety and weaken themselves at the same time by making away with men who were innocent and their own friends, but others say that his accusations were not fictitious but that he disclosed his actual accomplices. [6] Finally, as do what he would he was unable to die, he offered to give information against many more, and induced Hippias to give him his right hand as a pledge of good faith, and when he grasped it he taunted him with giving his hand to his brother's murderer, and so enraged Hippias that in his anger he could not control himself but drew his dagger and made away with him.

1 Baskets holding the requisites for the religious service were carried by maidens of high birth.

2 Thuc. 6.56.3 says 'not many'

3 A monument to three daughters of Leon who in obedience to an oracle gave their lives for their country by running against the enemy's ranks in battle.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.56
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.94
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