Now the attempt of Aristogiton and Harmodius arose out of a love affair, which I will narrate at length;
and the narrative will show that the Athenians themselves give quite an inaccurate account of their own tyrants, and of the incident in question, and know no more than other Hellenes1
Pisistratus died at an2
advanced age in possession of the tyranny, and then, not, as is the common3
opinion, Hipparchus, but Hippias(who was the eldest of his sons) succeeded to his power.—Harmodius was in the4
flower of youth, and Aristogiton, a citizen of the middle class, became his lover.
Hipparchus made an attempt to gain the affections of Harmodius, but he would not listen to him, and told Aristogiton. The latter was naturally tormented at the idea, and fearing that Hipparchus who was powerful would resort to violence, at once formed such a plot as a man in his station might for the overthrow of the tyranny.
Meanwhile Hipparchus made another attempt; he had no better success, and thereupon he determined, not indeed to take any violent step, but to insult Harmodius bin some secret place5
, so that his motive could not be suspected.
To use violence would have been at variance with the general character of his rule, which was not unpopular or oppressive to the many; in fact no tyrants ever displayed greater merit or capacity than these. Although the tax on the produce of the soil which they exacted amounted only to five per cent., they improved and adorned the city, and carried on successful wars; they were also in the habit of sacrificing in the temples.
The city meanwhile was permitted to retain her ancient laws; but the family of Pisistratus took care that one of their own number should always be in office. Among others who thus held the annual archonship at Athens was Pisistratus, a son of the tyrant Hippias. He was named after his grandfather Pisistratus, and during his term of office he dedicated the altar of the Twelve Gods in the Agora, and another altar in the temple of the Pythian Apollo.
The Athenian people afterwards added to one side of the altar in the Agora and so concealed the inscription upon it; but the other inscription on the altar of the Pythian Apollo may still be seen, although the letters are nearly effaced. It runs as follows:—
Pisistratus the son of Hippias dedicated this memorial of his archonship in the sacred precinct of the Pythian Apollo.