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τῶν ... φονέες. In these words Herodotus attempts to justify his digression.


γένος ... Ἀθηναῖοι. Herodotus seems to have regarded the Alcmaeonids as of true Attic descent (cf. vi. 125 τὰ ἀνέκαθεν), neither Ionian (ch. 66. 2, 69. 1) nor, like the Pisistratidae, immigrants from Pylos (ch. 65. 3 n.). Pausanias (ii. 18. 8, 9), on the other hand, derives them along with the royal house of Melanthus (Medontidae), the Paeonidae, and perhaps the Pisistratidae, from Neleus, king of Pylos. Thus the Alcmaeonidae would be connected with the royal house (a tradition perhaps borne out by the occurrence of the names Alcmaeon and Megacles in the list of life-archons) and with the Pisistratidae, as alleged by Isocrates (περὶ ζεύγους, 25). It has been ingeniously suggested by Toepffer (Att. Gen. 225 f.), that the Messenian origin of the royal and noble houses may be a fiction intended to support the claim of Athens to be the mother-city of the Ionian colonies, since the great families of Ionia (e. g. the royal house at Miletus) professed to be descended from Neleus of Pylos; but cf. i. 147 n.

φεύγοντες: exules (cf. i. 64 ad fin.), with acc. ii. 152. 1, vi. 103. 1, 123. 1, elsewhere with ὑπὸ τινός.

Λειψύδριον: identified by Milchöfer with an ancient fort on a spur of Mount Parnes (Karagoufolesa), 2 1/2 miles north of Menidi, the cemetery of Acharnae (Frazer, Paus. v. p. 526). Paeonia (more properly Paeonidae) must have been at the foot of the mountain. There is therefore no need to alter the text to ὑπὲρ Πάρνηθος (cf. Ath. Pol. 19) as the fort would be above Paeonidae as well as upon Parnes. An interesting skolion (Ath. Pol. l. c., Athen. xv. p. 695) αἰαῖ Λειψύδριον προδωσέταιρον κτλ. records this defeat of the Alcmaeonids.

παρ᾽ Ἀμφικτυόνων. The Amphictyonic council controlled the finance and undertook the care of the temple at Delphi. When the temple was burnt down in 548 B. C. (Chron. cf. i. 50) the estimate for rebuilding it was 300 talents and subscriptions were solicited from all parts of Greece, and even from Amasis of Egypt (ii. 180 n.). [For a similar national subscription to rebuild the temple destroyed in the fourth century cf. Xen. Hell. vi. 4. 2; Frazer, Paus. v. p. 634.] The collection, as might be expected, was a long business. It was going on before the death of Amasis (526 B. C.), but the Alcmaeonidae did not begin their contract till 514 B. C., after their defeat at Lipsydrium (Ath. Pol. 19), and in all probability did not complete the work till after their return to Athens (510 B. C.) (Philochorus, fr. 70; F. H. G. i. 395; Schol. Pind. Pyth. vii. 9). Grote (iv. 48), however, and Wilamowitz-Möllendorff (Arist. i. 34 n.) think that the Alcmaeonid contract must have been earlier.


Herodotus emphasizes the liberality of the Alcmaeonids. The Isocratean school and other later writers (cf. Isocr. de Perm. 232; Ath. Pol. 19; Philoch. fr. 70; Demosth. c. Meid. 144) allege that they got control of a large sum of money by undertaking the contract, and used it to effect the expulsion of the Pisistratids. In the case of a similar restoration at Delos (B. C. H. xiv. 389), half the sum agreed on was given to the contractors when the contract was signed, and four-tenths more when the work was half-done. It is therefore possible (as alleged by Philochorus, l. c., and argued by Wilamowitz, A. and A. i. 33 f.) that the Alcmaeonids misapplied the contract-money, and subsequently after their restoration made splendid amends by their magnificent rebuilding of the temple (Pind. Pyth. vii. 10). But the story is late and may well be inspired by envy and malice. The wealth of the Alcmaeonids seems to have depended largely on their connexion with the East (cf. vi. 125), not on landed estates, presumably now confiscated, in Attica. Their reputation at Delphi makes the tale of embezzlement improbable, and supports the view taken by H.

πωρίνου ... Παρίου. Parian marble is the best for statues, and far more splendid than tufa or limestone, of which most of the older Greek temples are built. The French excavators at Delphi have found near the east façade of the temple, buried under the Sacred Way, two sets of archaic pediment-sculptures, one made of marble, the other of tufa. So, too, the architectural fragments are partly of tufa, partly of Parian marble, so far supporting H.'s account. Cf. Frazer, Paus. v, pp. 631-2; B. C. H. xx. (641 f.); Bury, Hermathena, x. 267 f.

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, 19
    • Pindar, Pythian, 7
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.4.2
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