What was the importance of the Pisistratid tyranny for the development of Athens? Essay
The Pisistratid tyranny was important for the development of Athens as Pisistratus got the Athenian people to be more concerned in their own affairs then to be bothered by the government. However they did get a say in matters, one reason Pisistratus was so successful was because he kept Solons reforms intact. He could have, if he wanted to, to rule as a true tyrant, kill people who do not see his way, charge huge taxes and work the people to the bone. However he did not, this pleased the people as they, in the previous system, were under the rule of the nobles and had to do as they said.Pisistratus was a tyrant that we know for definite, however he was not like many of the other tyrants evil/bad.
‘Pisistratus administered the cities affairs moderately, and more like a citizen then like a tyrant.’AthPol 16:2He did kill his enemies, yet he still gave the people of Athens the chance to give their say in public matters, just as Solon had set up before the tyranny. The tyranny lasted for 35 years in total and including the time of Solon, the people saw a long time without aristocratic rule.”No one could compel him to rule constitutionally. That he didso from choice is a measure of his political intelligence and inthe end its one key to his place in the evolution of Athens”AndrewsPisistratus helped Athens on its way to democracy, some reasons as to why his rule was so popular was because of several things.
He built a temple to the Goddess Athena in the Acropolis, and he also began work on the building of a temple to the God Zeus. He made the festival of Panatenaea much more elaborate, involving poets reading Homers works. Then the huge festival called Great Dimysia where there were tragic plays brought in as an entertainment for the Athenian people.The reason that these are good things is because Pisistratus tried to encourage the arts to come into Athenian life, he was also fairly religious, and this favoured well with the people.He also encouraged people to get on with their farms and so on, and said to leave the political side of things to him, to ‘not get involved in public affairs’ he helped the Athenian public by, if they were in trouble he would give them a loan to get back on their feet again. This helped him make many people feel that this ‘tyranny’ was going to be a good thing for them, and they were right.
Because of Pisistratus, and his encouragement of the crafts, this helped Athens become the number one in the pottery market, with having the best pottery and highest trade factor in Greece. This helped to make Athens not only a strong trading Polis but also world renowned for the fine quality of pottery.The tyranny was also good in two ways it united the state together, so everyone had a job, a duty. It also brought great peace and security to the people of Athens.
Coinage was also introduced during the Pisistratid tyranny, this enabled them to trade with other Polis for goods such as certain materials etc. However we are unsure if it was Pisistratus himself of his sons Hippias or Hipparchus whom introduced this system of currency; however we do know it was during the reign of this family where they placed the head of an owl on the coins (sign of Athena)With the help of Pisistratus Athens soon fast became what is known as a Pan-Hellenic Centre (all Greek) it became one because of- Its Buildings, Its status on Religion, Its high trade factors, Its strong economy and its identity in general in Greece.The tyranny lasted 35 years overall, from father to sons, and with Solon also, the people saw a long time without aristocratic rule and began to favour democracy in a large way.However the tyranny did have a few flaws also, the tyranny was not accepted straight away, and Pisistratus was thrown out three times before gaining a strong foothold, the people. The tyranny was good yes, but what did Pisistratus gain out of it all at the end of the day.
The money he gave to farmers to help them in times of trouble, was his own money, so he had become a loan shark. He charged them extra to pay it all back, and so made more money out of the people.When Pisistratus handed the reigns over to his sons, they were liked by the people, Hippias, a good public speaker, Hipparchus, a keen person whom liked the arts (plays etc) However when, Hipparchus was killed, Hippias became much more blood thirsty, and began having lots of expulsions and also many people being executed. Hippias became, bitter, always suspicious and trusted no one after the death of his brother.I believe that what Pisistratus did was excellent for the development of Athens in the long run.
I believe that with out knowing it, and the same with Solon, they did not know what they were doing was a basic form of democracy, they were just ensuring that the people were happy.In the Athenian Constitution, there are many good extracts from which Aristotle describes actions of Pisistratus and the man in general. This helps to let us know what roughly was done and the reactions of the people during the Pisistratid reign.He said to the people of Athens’concentrate on their private lives and have neither the desire northe leisure to take an interest in public affairs.’AthPol-16:3He says all this to the people of Athens so as he can get on with his ruling the tyranny without any chance of an uproar, due to the people being more worried about their working the land then the city itself.As I said earlier what Solon and Pisistratus were doing without knowing it was leading Athens to a state of Democracy, below is a quotation from a leading Historian about the way Solon and Pisistratus went about Democracy.