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After this it began to come about that the tyranny was much harsher; for Hippias's numerous executions and sentences of exile in revenge for his brother led to his being suspicious of everybody and embittered. [2] About four years after Hipparchus's death the state of affairs in the city was so bad that he set about fortifying Munychia,1 with the intention of moving his establishment there. While engaged in this he was driven out by the king of Sparta, Cleomenes, as oracles were constantly being given to the Spartans to put down the tyranny, for the following reason. [3] The exiles headed by the Alcmeonidae were not able to effect their return by their own unaided efforts, but were always meeting reverses; for besides the other plans that were complete failures, they built the fort of Leipsydrion2 in the country, on the slopes of Parnes, where some of their friends in the city came out and joined them, but they were besieged and dislodged by the tyrants, owing to which afterwards they used to refer to this disaster in singing their catches:“Faithless Dry Fountain! Lackaday,
What good men's lives you threw away!
True patriots and fighters game,
They showed the stock from which they came!

Anon. [4] So as they were failing in everything else, they contracted to build the temple at Delphi,3 and so acquired a supply of money for the assistance of the Spartans. And the Pythian priestess constantly uttered a command to the Spartans, when they consulted the oracle, to liberate Athens, until she brought the Spartiates to the point, although the Peisistratidae were strangers to them; and an equally great amount of incitement was contributed to the Spartans by the friendship that subsisted between the Argives and the Peisistratidae. [5] As a first step, therefore, they dispatched Anchimolus with a force by sea; but he was defeated and lost his life, because the Thessalian Cineas came to the defence with a thousand cavalry. Enraged at this occurrence, they dispatched their king Cleomenes by land with a larger army; he won a victory over the Thessalian cavalry who tried to prevent his reaching Attica, and so shut up Hippias in the fortress called the Pelargicum4 and began to lay siege to it with the aid of the Athenians. [6] While he was sitting down against it, it occurred that the sons of Peisistratidae were caught when trying secretly to get away; and these being taken they came to terms on the condition of the boys' safety, and conveyed away their belongings in five days, surrendering the Acropolis to the Athenians; this was in the archonship of Harpactides, and Peisistratus's sons had retained the tyranny for about seventeen years after their father's death making when added to the period of their father's power a total of forty-nine years.

1 A hill above the sea S. of the city, commanding Peiraeus and the two other harbors.

2 The name suggests 'water-failure.' Parnes is a mountain in N.E. Attica.

3 It had been burnt down in 548 B.C. Apparently they made a profit on the contract, but rebuilt it to the satisfaction of the priestess.

4 The fortification surrounding the west end of the Acropolis.

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  • Commentary references to this page (6):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.55
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.62
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.63
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.64
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 5.65
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 7.143
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