CLEISTHENES (/ˈklaɪsθᵻˌniːz/ ; Greek : Κλεισθένης,
Kleisthénēs; also CLISTHENES or KLEISTHENES) was a noble Athenian of
the Alcmaeonid family. He is credited with reforming the constitution
Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508/7 BC.
For these accomplishments, historians refer to him as "the father of
Athenian democracy." He was the maternal grandson of the tyrant
Cleisthenes of Sicyon , as the younger son of the latter's daughter
Agariste and her husband
Megacles . Also, he was credited with
increasing the power of the Athenian citizens’ assembly and for
reducing the power of the nobility over Athenian politics.
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Rise to power
* 1.2 Contribution to the governance of
* 2 Notes
* 3 References
* 3.1 Primary sources
* 3.2 Secondary sources
* 4 Further reading
* 5 External links
Historians estimate that
Cleisthenes was born around 570 BC.
Cleisthenes was the uncle of
Pericles ' mother Agariste and of
Alcibiades ' maternal grandfather Megacles.
RISE TO POWER
With help from the Spartans and the
Alcmaeonidae (Cleisthenes' genos,
"clan"), he was responsible for overthrowing Hippias , the tyrant son
of Pisistratus . After the collapse of Hippias' tyranny,
Cleisthenes were rivals for power, but
Isagoras won the upper hand by
appealing to the Spartan king
Cleomenes I to help him expel
Cleisthenes. He did so on the pretext of the Alcmaeonid curse .
Athens as an exile, and
unrivalled in power within the city.
Isagoras set about dispossessing
hundreds of Athenians of their homes and exiling them on the pretext
that they too were cursed. He also attempted to dissolve the Boule
(βουλή), a council of Athenian citizens appointed to run the
daily affairs of the city. However, the council resisted, and the
Athenian people declared their support of the council.
his supporters were forced to flee to the Acropolis , remaining
besieged there for two days. On the third day they fled the city and
Cleisthenes was subsequently recalled, along with
hundreds of exiles, and he assumed leadership of Athens.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE GOVERNANCE OF ATHENS
After this victory,
Cleisthenes began to reform the government of
Athens. He commissioned a bronze memorial from the sculptor
honor of the lovers and tyrannicides
Harmodius and Aristogeiton
Harmodius and Aristogeiton , whom
Hippias had executed. In order to forestall strife between the
traditional clans, which had led to the tyranny in the first place, he
changed the political organization from the four traditional tribes,
which were based on family relations, into ten tribes according to
their area of residence (their deme ). It is thought that there may
have been 139 demes (though this is still a matter of debate) which
were organized into three groups called trittyes ("thirds"), with ten
demes divided among three regions in each trittyes (a city region,
asty; a coastal region, paralia; and an inland region, mesogeia).
Cleisthenes also abolished patronymics in favour of demonymics (a name
given according to the deme to which one belongs), thus increasing
Athenians' sense of belonging to a deme. He also established
sortition - the random selection of citizens to fill government
positions rather than kinship or heredity, a true test of real
democracy. He reorganized the Boule , created with 400 members under
Solon , so that it had 500 members, 50 from each tribe. He also
introduced the bouletic oath, "To advise according to the laws what
was best for the people". The court system (Dikasteria — law
courts) was reorganized and had from 201–5001 jurors selected each
day, up to 500 from each tribe. It was the role of the Boule to
propose laws to the assembly of voters, who convened in
forty times a year for this purpose. The bills proposed could be
rejected, passed or returned for amendments by the assembly.
Cleisthenes also may have introduced ostracism (first used in 487
BC), whereby a vote from more than 6,000 of the citizens would exile a
citizen for 10 years. The initial trend was to vote for a citizen
deemed a threat to the democracy (e.g., by having ambitions to set
himself up as tyrant). However, soon after, any citizen judged to have
too much power in the city tended to be targeted for exile (e.g.,
Xanthippus in 485/84 BC). Under this system, the exiled man's
property was maintained, but he was not physically in the city where
he could possibly create a new tyranny.
Cleisthenes called these reforms isonomia ("equality vis à vis law",
iso-=equality; nomos=law), instead of demokratia . Cleisthenes’ life
after his reforms is unknown as no ancient texts mention him
* ^ Ober, pp. 83 ff.
* ^ The New York Times (30 October 2007) . John W. Wright, ed. The
New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, Second Edition: A Desk
Reference for the Curious Mind. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 628.
ISBN 978-0-312-37659-8 . Retrieved 31 January 2017.
* ^ R. Po-chia Hsia, Julius Caesar, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H.
Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith, The Making of the West, Peoples and
Cultures, A Concise History, Volume I: To 1740 (Boston and New York:
Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007), 44.
* ^ Langer, William L. (1968) The Early Period, to c. 500 B.C. An
Encyclopedia of World History (Fourth Edition pp. 66). Printed in the
United States of America: Houghton Mifflin Company. Accessed: January
* ^ The Greeks:Crucible of Civilization (2000)
* ^ Herodotus, Histories 6.131
* ^ Plutarch. Plutarch's Lives. with an English Translation by.
Bernadotte Perrin. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. London.
William Heinemann Ltd. 1916. 4.
* ^ Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, Chapter 20
* ^ Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, Chapter 21
* ^ Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, Chapter 21
* ^ Morris & Raaflaub
Democracy 2500?: Questions and Challenges
* ^ Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, Chapter 22
* Aristotle. Athenian Constitution. Trans.
Frederic George Kenyon
Frederic George Kenyon .
Wikisource . . See original text in Perseus program.
* Aristotle (1984). The Athenian Constitution. P.J. Rhodes trans.
Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044431-9 .
* Morris I.; Raaflaub K., eds. (1998).
Democracy 2500?: Questions
and Challenges. Kendal/Hunt Publishing Co. CS1 maint: Uses editors
parameter (link )
* Ober, Josiah (2007). "I Besieged That Man, Democracy's
Revolutionary Start". Origins of
Democracy in Ancient Greece.
University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24562-4 .
* Lévêque, Pierre; Vidal-Naquet, Pierre (1996).
Athenian: An Essay on the Representation of Space and Time in Greek
Political Thought from the End of the Sixth Century to the Death of
Plato. Humanities Press.
* Davies, J.K. (1993).
Democracy and classical Greece. Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-19607-4 .
* Ehrenberg, Victor (2010). From
Solon to Socrates Greek History and
Civilization During the 6th and 5th Centuries BC. Hoboken: Taylor &
Francis. ISBN 978-0-203-84477-9 .
* Forrest, William G. (1966). The Emergence of Greek Democracy,
800–400 BC. New York: McGraw–Hill.
* Hignett, Charles (1952). A History of the Athenian Constitution to
the End of the Fifth Century BC. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
* Larsen, Jakob A. O. (1948). "
Cleisthenes and the Development of
the Theory of
Democracy at Athens". In Konvitz, Milton R.; Murphy,
Arthur E. Essays in Political Theory Presented to George H. Sabine.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
* O'Neil, James L. (1995). The origins and development of ancient
Greek democracy. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8476-7956-X
* Staveley, E. S. (1972). Greek and Roman voting and elections.
Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Pr. ISBN 0-8014-0693-5 .
* Thorley, John (1996). Athenian democracy. London: Routledge. ISBN
* Zimmern, Alfred (1911). The Greek Commonwealth: Politics and
Economics in Fifth Century Athens. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Media related to